February 29, 2008 in City

Black Rock abandons sales office

Staff writer
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Site preparation and utility work is under way at the Kendall Yards site Thursday just south of the Spokane County Courthouse complex.
(Full-size photo)

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Black Rock Development is scrapping its downtown Spokane sales office for Kendall Yards, even before the office opened to the public.

But that doesn’t signal a shift in outlook for the 78-acre mixed-use project, said developer Marshall Chesrown, who maintains that construction could begin by early next year.

“We’re not going anywhere. I wouldn’t care if I had to carry it for 20 years,” Chesrown said. “There’s no lack of appetite out there. We have a vision for what we want Kendall Yards to be, and we want to make sure that’s what’s going to happen.”

Before construction begins, Chesrown said, Avista must finish moving transmission lines on and around the site west of downtown on the north bank of the Spokane River.

Also, the developer must pay for improvements to where Monroe and Maple streets will intersect with Kendall Yards Boulevard, an east-west arterial through the development.

Black Rock Development still must submit a final plat – showing parcel boundaries, roads and infrastructure – and sign an agreement detailing traffic and environmental mitigation, said Dave Mandyke, the city’s director of Public Works and Utilities. Those documents allow some leeway for how the development takes shape, so the final project wouldn’t have to look like Chesrown’s current proposal.

“You could put just about anything you want in there,” Mandyke said.

The development is expected to include 1 million square feet of commercial space and 2,600 residences. It’s planned in phases, to be built over the next 15 to 20 years or longer depending on demand.

Phase I, on land between Maple and Monroe, is expected to include about 300 to 400 residential units and some retail, commercial and office space.

Infrastructure must be installed or bonded before the city will approve a final plat, said Leroy Eadie, Planning Services Department director. Black Rock is negotiating with other potential partners, including Minneapolis-based Opus Group, Chesrown said. Cypress Equities, a national company that had planned to partner financially with Black Rock on the first phase, backed out last spring.

But the hardest parts of the process – securing a special tax district to help fund infrastructure and passing environmental muster – are out of the way, Chesrown said.

Chesrown bought the historic Brundage Block building, 110 N. Post St., in 2005 as a potential venue for Kendall Yards sales and marketing efforts, making numerous improvements. Initial floor plans show tables for development models, display rooms and a waiting area. But Black Rock never moved in. The sole public function held there was a cocktail party that was part of the project’s groundbreaking last spring. The two-story, 6,842-square-foot building recently was offered for lease or sale.

“Now we’ve gotten so far along on site work, it’s not really going to be necessary” to open the downtown office, Chesrown said.

Avista had been scheduled to install transmission cable beneath the Monroe Street Dam on Thursday morning to serve the West Central neighborhood and the development. The project was delayed for more work on a 50-year-old conduit that will carry the cable, Avista spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst said.

Avista hopes to energize the new line by April 10.

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