The Spokane real estate market currently has a nearly two-year supply of condominium units. A much-heralded demand for downtown living units has to date proved largely illusory. Lending for real estate development has virtually dried up.
Yet, incredibly, a majority of Spokane City Council members favor developing the former YMCA building in Riverfront Park into condos and/or office space and forgoing the county’s offer to purchase the property with conservation reserve money.
Should the city accept an offer like that of Ron Wells to lease the land and building, and should Mr. Wells be unsuccessful in developing and marketing the property, the city will have to find $4.3 million from some other source to pay off its loan from the garbage reserve account and will be stuck with an obsolescent and decaying structure of no architectural significance in the midst of its signature park.
No amount of handwringing about the necessity to develop downtown and prevent urban sprawl can justify such fiscal recklessness. With numerous surface parking lots, vacant buildings and the 80-acre Kendall Yards tract, downtown can scarcely be said to lack developable property. Spokane citizens need to instruct council members to accept the county’s offer.
Donald D. Lamp