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City considers buying Pring property for library park land

The Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday again discussed a proposal to buy property at Sprague Avenue and Herald Road for a new library and expansion of Balfour Park, but this is not the first time the city has been asked to consider purchasing the land.

The 8-acre site is owned by the Pring Corporation. The Spokane County Library District is interested in building a new library on the land, but cannot afford to purchase the entire site and recently approached the city about buying the land jointly.

In June 2007, Pring Corp. President Brad Pring sent a proposal to the City Council suggesting the city buy the land for a new city center that was being proposed as part of the planning for the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. Brad Pring is the son of Jack Pring, who contributed to the election and/or re-election campaigns of six of the seven current council members and employed one council member in the 1970s.

A map of the proposal dated Sept. 4, 2007, shows a library, city hall and an office/retail building on the site. Former council member Bill Gothmann said the city was looking for a much larger site for a city center and decided against the proposal. “I just felt like (Brad) Pring was trying his best to twist our arms to buy it,” he said. “He was kind of ticked that we didn’t do it.”

The proposal was presented as a cheaper alternative than creating a city center on several parcels of land from different owners on the south side of Sprague near University City. Gothmann said he doesn’t remember the price quoted to the city in 2007. “I do definitely remember the letter,” he said.

City records show that all correspondence to the City Council from 2007 was destroyed on Dec. 21, 2011. According to state law the city is only required to keep such correspondence for two years, said City Attorney Cary Driskell.

Brad Pring did not return a phone message seeking comment.

In September 2010 the Pring Corp. sent a letter to the city asking for an emergency comprehensive plan amendment to change the zoning of the parcel on Sprague from city center to mixed use zoning in order to bring in a used car dealership. The emergency amendment was approved by the council in January 2011, but the car dealership never materialized.

The Pring property was also mentioned in a grant request made by the city to the Community Economic Development Revitalization Board’s Job Development Fund program in January 2006. The city asked for $7.3 million to complete the extension of the Sprague/Appleway couplet. The project had to include an economic development component and the Pring Corp. was one of three business owners who submitted letters promising a total of $51.3 million in improvements on their land. The proposal did not include the city purchasing the Pring property.

“Part of the application process is to show what other developers had in the mill,” said Spokane Valley Public Works Director Neil Kersten. “They wanted to see, if we built that, what other things would happen.”

The city’s request never got further than a pre-application and the proposal was apparently never made public. “This was just to see if we would qualify,” Kersten said. “I don’t know if it ever got discussed at the council level or not.

“We just didn’t have a developed enough plan. I know it was something that came up really fast. We just didn’t have a project that was ready.”

During Tuesday’s meeting the council agreed to have staff prepare a motion for a future meeting that would allow a jointly funded study with the library district that will look at what right of way improvements may be necessary if the project moves forward. The city’s share of the cost would be approximately $8,000.

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