December 23, 2009 in City

City seeking YMCA redevelopment proposals

The Spokesman-Review
 

The City of Spokane is asking for proposals to redevelop the former YMCA building in Riverfront Park, with potential uses as retail, office or residential space.

Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26.

The request for proposals is the latest development in the long-running deliberations over the future of the YMCA site.

The city exercised a right of first refusal to buy the site in 2006, after developer Mark Pinch announced a plan to pay the YMCA $5.3 million for it and build a $50 million, 14-story condominium tower there.

But the city didn’t have enough money to pay off the debt it took on to finalize the purchase, and approached Spokane County about using its Conservation Futures tax funds for that purpose.

The county agreed, but the city has gone back on forth on whether it would accept the conservation futures funds, which would require the former YMCA building to be torn down and the land overlooking Spokane Falls to be returned to a natural state.

Some on the Spokane City Council have argued it would be better to have development at that site to generate tax dollars and attract people to the core of downtown. Supporters of tearing down the Y say using Conservation Futures money would preserve the public’s view of the city’s most prized natural landmark without raising taxes.

Earlier this month, the city council voted 4-2 to accept Conservation Futures money from the county, but only if a viable development plan doesn’t emerge from a request for proposals.

That frustrated county commissioners, who voted 2-1 to wait four months before rescinding their offer to use Conservation Futures funds.

The request for proposals announced by the city Wednesday envisions the city retaining ownership of the nearly 40,000-square-foot site and leasing it to a developer.

A pre-proposal conference is set for Thursday, Jan. 28, at 3:30 p.m. in the city council briefing room.


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