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Council approves big-box stores

Tue., July 1, 2008

The Spokane City Council on Monday cleared the way for big-box store development near Regal Street and the Palouse Highway.

After weeks of negotiations between neighbors and developers, the council approved what most members described as a compromise that puts restrictions on the size of buildings and requires that developers abide by agreements, including construction of bike and pedestrian routes and participation in a storm water collection system.

But many in the Southgate neighborhood said developers got most of what they wanted without compromising on key elements, including options to decrease traffic congestion of the three-lane Regal Street.

The legislation allows for construction of a Home Depot and another big box store up to 105,000 square feet, and a 135,000-square-foot store that developers say could become a Target.

Before anything is built, developers and city officials must agree to more detailed concepts based on language approved Monday.

Councilman Al French said too many South Hill residents shop in areas outside the city. The new stores will increase sales tax revenue, French said.

“It is in the best interest of the city and the taxpayers,” he said.

Council members universally praised the negotiation process, but Councilman Richard Rush, the lone vote against the proposals, said the final product is contrary to the city’s long-term growth plan.

Rush, who along with Councilman Michael Allen worked closely with negotiations between the neighborhood and developers, said the aim of the development should have been to create an “urban” center.

“It’s a lost opportunity to have a project that shows an urban walkable mixed-use development,” Rush said.

On a 4-3 vote, the council increased the size of other buildings that can be built on the three properties to 60,000 square feet, up from 40,000 square feet.

Allen said he considered the 40,000 maximum part of a fair compromise. Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she supported the increase because the smaller size excluded some key retailers from the area, including Barnes & Noble.

The increase in size, which was proposed by French, also was supported by McLaughlin and council members Bob Apple and Steve Corker.

Home Depot wants to build a store on the north side of Palouse Highway a short distance east of Regal Street. Black Development is working on proposals for a private landowner and KXLY on two sites east and west of Regal at Palouse. Black has said Target is a possible retailer on one of the sites.

The Plan Commission earlier this year voted 5-3 to recommend against the proposals because they lacked deeper neighborhood planning, according to previous Spokesman-Review coverage.

Stanley Schwartz, who represents KXLY, said the final agreement approved Monday will provide significant improvements to the area.

“They made a reasonable decision,” he said.

But Amy McCaffree, a member of the Southgate Neighborhood Council, said the agreement will hurt small businesses and make traffic worse.

“The city can’t even take care of its streets now,” she said.


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