March 21, 2008 in Business

Affordable housing planned for mentally ill

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Nonprofit Spokane Mental Health will break ground next week on two East Central Neighborhood buildings to house people with chronic mental illnesses.

Keystone Corners, to be built at 2021 and 2218 E. First Ave., will offer federally subsidized, one-bedroom apartments to people who have documented disabilities and make less than 50 percent of the area median income. The roughly $3.4 million project, also sponsored by nonprofit Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs, will help compensate for the recent loss of low-income housing downtown, said Sheryldene Rogers, a development consultant with Goodale & Barbieri Co.

The buildings are a couple miles down First Avenue from where poor tenants were displaced from the Commercial Building, Otis Hotel and New Madison last year.

For people with mental illness, a stable home environment makes treatment more effective, Rogers said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded roughly $2 million, and the state and city provided grants. HUD’s Section 811 program also pays the difference between HUD-approved operating costs and tenants’ contributions, typically 30 percent of their adjusted income, according to the department.

“That means these units are truly affordable to the residents,” Rogers said

Spokane Mental Health also wants to find another property for a similar project, because of the “desperate” need for that type of housing in Spokane, Rogers said.

A similar, 15-unit project in Colville, slated to receive about $1.5 million from HUD, should break ground in about a year, Rogers said. Stevens County Counseling Services will help those residents.

DigiDeal campus growing

Expansion is in the cards for Spokane Valley-based electronic casino game developer DigiDeal Corp., which plans a new building to accommodate a growing workforce.

DigiDeal will break ground on the two-story, approximately 21,000-square-foot structure March 31, said Lucas Holmquist, project manager for contractor Baker Construction & Development Inc. The roughly $3 million project, located near the company’s existing building on East Third Avenue, should be completed around late October, he said.

The corporation has grown from 12 to 42 employees over the last 1.5 years, according to an announcement of the groundbreaking. In June, Reno, Nevada-based International Game Technology became a majority shareholder, winning exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights for DigiDeal’s electronic table games, which eliminate paper cards.

DigiDeal current offices are at 5207 E. Third Ave. and 802 N. Fancher Road. It may continue to occupy some of that space.

Water park adding ride

A new ride planned this season for Splash Down Family Waterpark in Spokane Valley will hurl visitors through an enclosed, roughly 250-foot-long slide that descends six stories, the park’s co-owner said. A radar gun will capture the speed of riders on “The Fastball” and display it on an LCD screen.

The speed-slide attraction, Splash Down’s first major addition since installing an inner-tube ride in 2005, should be completed by June. The slide, which still needs city permits, would start from the park’s existing platform, perched atop a hill overlooking Interstate 90.

“We may end up making it go underground,” said Splash Down Concessions Inc. President Geoff Kellogg, who owns the park with his wife, Melissa.

Kellogg, also a high school pitching coach, said owners noticed kids competing on its existing four body slides. He declined to disclose the price of the addition.

The ride is part of the park’s master plan through 2013; the business already spruced up its grounds and facilities, part of an effort to update its image as it enters its 25th year. Future plans include a “lazy river,” wave pool, expanded kid’s area and more bathrooms and concessions.

Competition with other area parks has increased, Kellogg said, but owners focus on keeping rates affordable for families.

The park will employ about 40 when it opens for the season, which is scheduled to start May 24. Visit www.splashdownwaterpark.net for details.


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