Local news

City seeks plans for Y site

Council wants ideas from developers

The city of Spokane wants to hear developers’ ideas for re-making the former YMCA building in Riverfront Park into some combination of retail, office and residential space.

The city on Wednesday put out a request for proposals and asked to hear back from prospective developers by Feb. 26.

It’s the latest in a long series of deliberations over the future of the YMCA site.

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

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 county Conservation Futures tax funds for that purpose.

The county agreed, but the city has gone back and forth on whether to accept the 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 Spokane City Council members want to see taxable development on that site. Others argue that tearing down the building would benefit the region by preserving views of the river, and the county’s Conservation Futures funds would make that possible 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 the request for proposals.

That frustrated county commissioners, who voted 2-1 recently to wait four months, then rescind their offer to allow the city to use the 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 preproposal conference is set for 3:30 p.m. Jan. 28 in the City Council briefing room.

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