June 5, 2009 in City

Buyer calls off YWCA deal

SRM planned to build pair of condo towers
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

The YWCA complex sits between the scenic lower and upper falls on the Spokane River.
(Full-size photo)

A development company’s recent decision to break an agreement to buy prime riverfront land from the YWCA of Spokane has left the nonprofit group searching for a new buyer in a depressed market.

SRM Development offered $4 million for the downtown YWCA complex in 2005 and planned to build two 14-story condo towers on the property along the north bank of the Spokane River.

“It is not moving forward,” said Mike Craven, development manager for SRM. He declined further comment Thursday afternoon.

Trish McFarland, executive director of the YWCA, said SRM informed the YWCA late last month that it would back out of the sales agreement signed in 2005. The company made a $250,000 down payment on the property.

“We’re certainly disappointed that the downturn in the economy has had this effect on a reputable, local developer,” McFarland said.

She said she is confident that the YWCA will find a new buyer who will pay a similar amount. “I have received some very good interest from other parties,” McFarland said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime piece of property.”

The YWCA recently moved to a new complex it shares with the YMCA of the Inland Northwest at 930 N. Monroe St.

The nonprofits hope to use money raised by selling their older structures – both adjacent to Spokane Falls – to help finance the new building on Monroe and a new Y that will open this summer on U.S. Highway 2 in north Spokane.

SRM’s condo project, Broadway Towers, had approval to build along the shoreline, said Spokane Planning Director Leroy Eadie. The company’s Web site said the towers would “offer unparalleled views of the Spokane River and Riverfront Park.”

The YMCA is awaiting a decision from the city of Spokane on the sale of its old building. The Spokane Park Board put $1 million down on the property in 2006. City officials say they plan to live by that agreement by borrowing the remaining $4.4 million from a city utility fund. It’s unclear, however, how the city will repay the utility fund because the Spokane City Council has expressed unease with a proposal to accept Conservation Futures taxes offered by the Spokane County Board of Commissioners.

Rig Riggins, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Inland Northwest, said he has faith that the city is good for the money. The YMCA has extended the deadline for the city to complete the purchase to June 24.

Riggins said the YMCA and YWCA have raised $36 million of their $40 million campaign goal. Money from the expected sales of the YMCA and YWCA is included in the $36 million, he said. “We’re just having to negotiate two particularly complicated facility sales,” he said.


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