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Business in brief: Nursing home plan gets OK


A 120-bed nursing home proposed for south Spokane received special permission on Friday to build on land zoned for single-family homes.

Extendicare Health Facilities Inc. may proceed with the 60,200-square-foot, one-story facility, to be constructed on 4.87 acres of vacant, forested land at 4515 S. Freya St. Neighbors testified to concerns about removal of trees, the business’s effect on nearby property values and Extendicare’s record, but Hearing Examiner Greg Smith found no authority to stop the project.

The state granted permission for the nursing home last year despite Extendicare operating Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, a north Spokane nursing home that had the worst record in the county for resident care from fall 2006 through September. Extendicare officials last fall said they had begun an “intensive training and oversight program” there, and hired an independent contractor to monitor quality and assess improvement.

Extendicare still needs building permits, and vested parties may appeal the decision in Spokane County Superior Court through April 11.

– Parker Howell


Gibson sues over ‘Rock Band’

Gibson Guitar Corp. is widening its attack on the video game industry with a federal lawsuit claiming that Harmonix, MTV Networks and Electronic Arts are violating a patent the guitar maker holds.

The new case, filed Thursday in Nashville, relates to the same virtual-reality patent involved in the lawsuit Gibson filed earlier this week against six major retailers that sell the Activision Inc. “Guitar Hero” game.

Gibson has tried to stop video game publisher Activision from selling all versions of the game, claiming it too closely matches a device Gibson patented in 1999.

This time, Gibson says it is by developing, promoting and distributing “Rock Band” that Harmonix, MTV Networks and Electronic Arts are infringing on the patent.

Harmonix also created and developed some of the “Guitar Hero” games.

Representatives with the three companies did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on Friday.

– Associated Press


Funds eye mortgage returns

The subprime mortgage crisis has yielded at least one benefit for states: Mortgage-related investments have become so cheap that they are luring some pension funds to buy.

Retirement systems in South Carolina and Pennsylvania are nibbling at the securities, betting that they have been beaten down so much that the ones with good credit ratings could yield strong returns later.

South Carolina is looking to buy $100 million of mortgage-related investments for its $30 billion state pension fund. Pennsylvania, which made money off those securities’ troubles in its hedge funds last year, is also betting that they can offer long-term returns.

But the buying this time is very tentative, and may not presage a broader turnaround in these securities.

– Associated Press


Zell may sell Newsday

Just three months after taking Tribune Co. private, CEO Sam Zell already is considering selling off one of its biggest properties, the Long Island-based newspaper Newsday, according to news reports.

Zell said during the buyout process that he wanted to hold on to all of Tribune’s major newspapers, which also include the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun. But several news reports Friday indicated he was considering a sale or other options for Newsday.

There’s already interest. Mortimer B. Zuckerman, a real estate developer who also owns the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report, will bid on the paper, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential.

– Associated Press


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