June 27, 2009 in Washington Voices

Project was crafted with your input

Bill Gothmann
 

When Spokane Valley was incorporated, many, many citizens asked that the City Council do something about Sprague Avenue. Vacancies were skyrocketing and values were plummeting. Businesses wanted ways to profitably invest in their own properties.

Upon more detailed investigation, we found that, although we had 40 percent of the commercial space, we had 60 percent of the vacancies. There was a big problem.

We also realized that some Sprague intersections were near failure and, if we did not address these traffic problems, a devastating, state-mandated building moratorium loomed on the horizon.

We are paying $450,000 per year to lease our present City Hall. This suggests we need to look into owning, rather than leasing, our City Hall. Surveys of our citizens showed they want a city center. Placing a City Hall within a city center could provide a unique environment consisting of small shops, living spaces, and pedestrian-friendly gathering places.

Thus, revitalization was essential to the city in developing a thriving Sprague Avenue and city center.

In response to these challenges, through 76 different meetings involving hundreds of citizens, we developed the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan. Numerous citizens came to share their thoughts and concerns with us. Did we listen to them? Let me list some of the ways in which the council responded.

1. Grafos Investments Inc., had concerns with both the rezoning and designated streets provisions. We removed the far-eastern property from the plan.

2. Lark Inc., was concerned about rezoning. Mayor Richard Munson suggested we remove their property from the plan and we agreed.

3. Walt’s Mailing Service was concerned about rezoning the rear of its property, since they use it. We passed a provision permitting existing Appleway uses to continue.

4. Ruby Street Motors wanted to be included in the auto zone. Councilmember Rose Dempsey suggested we move the eastern border of this zone to Appleway and we agreed.

5. Big Boys Toys Auto Sales was concerned about rezoning. We adopted Councilmember Diana Wilhite’s proposal to permit commercial activity along the four western blocks on the south side of Appleway.

6. Auto Row dealerships wanted land rezoned to accommodate a future recreation park. We enlarged the gateway commercial zone to accommodate this.

7. In response to public testimony, we changed the plan to accommodate both businesses and commuters by making Sprague and Appleway one-way west of Argonne and two-way east of Argonne.

8. We permitted additional light-industrial uses in both mixed-use and gateway commercial zones.

9. The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce expressed reservations about the one-year grandfather provision. We changed it to two years.

10. The Pring Corporation expressed concern about the provision that temporarily restricts city center retail establishments to core streets. We indicated that council can change this if this becomes a problem.

11. In response to public testimony, we changed the minimum street frontage requirements, the outside display and storage requirements, increased the acreage trigger for the construction of new streets, and prohibited billboards from the city center.

12. There were many, many other changes council made, too numerous to list here.

This plan’s main focus is to revitalize Sprague through businesses making profitable investments in their own property. As part of the city’s ongoing street improvement, the city would, over the next 20 years, improve Sprague and Appleway. In addition, the council is developing both architectural and financial plans for a City Hall to present to the voters for their consideration within about two years.

We’ve listened, we’ve acted, and we now have a plan in place for us to move forward as we continue to build Spokane Valley.

Bill Gothmann is a Spokane Valley city councilman. He can be contacted at bgothmann@spokanevalley.org.


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