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Zoo site eyed for city hall

Possible restrictions on property will be researched

In recent weeks Spokane Valley city Councilman Dean Grafos has been advocating building a city hall near CenterPlace in the future.

Public works director Neil Kersten said he has spoken to the Finance Committee, which includes Grafos, about using the site for a city hall but said it’s “not very much past the idea stage.”

Grafos said he just wanted to know if the idea is feasible. “I knew the city owned land over there,” he said. “My position is that all of the components to have a city hall are there. You have freeway access, you have office buildings over there, you have regional shopping, you have hotels. I think that’s the center of the city.”

The city currently pays nearly half a million dollars in rent for office space at 11707 E. Sprague Ave., which is considered the city hall.

Kersten said no surveys or in depth analysis has been done, but it appears that there is room to put in a two-story building and some parking. “There’s quite a bit of land just to the north of CenterPlace, between CenterPlace and the falls,” he said.

He has asked the city’s legal department to explore whether there are any restrictions on how the land can be used, Kersten said. The former Walk in the Wild Zoo site was donated by Inland Empire Paper Co. to the nonprofit Mirabeau Point Inc., which was formed to create a park and community center. The trustees disbanded the nonprofit group in 2004 and turned the project over to the newly incorporated city.

Inland Empire Paper is owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Grafos said he doesn’t believe there are any restrictions on the use of the land, but there may be restrictions on how CenterPlace can be used since the building was funded by a public facilities bond.

A potential city hall is something that is likely years in the future, Grafos said. “I don’t think it’s the right time,” he said. “I’m not asking that we start construction on a city hall. We’re in the middle of an economic downturn, but we want to look at the future possibilities.”