PFD urges use of eminent domain
A standoff between the Spokane Public Facilities District and a local architect over a half-block of downtown property, across the street from the Convention Center, could be headed to court.
The PFD’s board of directors Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution requesting the city use its eminent domain authority to acquire the land owned by Glen Cloninger. The property covers about 63,000-square-feet inside the “south block,” a city block the PFD wants for future Convention Center expansion and parking.
“It’s a shame it’s come to this,” said Rick LaFleur, PFD board chairman, following the vote. The PFD and Cloninger have been locked in dispute over the land’s value for years. The entire block is 120,000 square feet, about one-quarter of which the PFD owns. Diamond Parking owns the remaining quarter and is negotiating with the PFD over its sale.
The resolution approved Tuesday said the PFD believes the property is necessary for public use and that the PFD has used its best efforts to acquire it through negotiation, but has failed. Therefore, it says, eminent domain should be authorized.
Cloninger, however, said he feels he’s being railroaded by the PFD. He said the PFD’s offer was 30 percent less than the property was appraised for in 1999, before land prices really soared.
“If the PFD wants to buy it, they can, but it needs to be at a fair price. I think it’s way too soon to ask for condemnation,” Cloninger said.
The resolution will be forwarded to the City Council, which has the ultimate say on whether to pursue the matter.
Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession said he’d support the use of eminent domain if the PFD can prove the case it makes in the resolution — namely that Cloninger has turned down fair-price offers.
Diamond Parking hopes to finish its negotiations and sale as soon as possible, said Dan Geiger, Diamond’s regional vice president.
Kevin Twohig, the PFD’s executive director, said the board will continue to work and negotiate with Cloninger until the last possible minute to reach an out-of-court agreement.