May 5, 2012 in Washington Voices

Chamber says it isn’t being forced to move

President says business group simply chose not to exercise its option to buy site
By The Spokesman-Review
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Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce President Eldonna Shaw clarified the circumstances surrounding its announced move to Liberty Lake, saying this week the building the chamber leases at 9507 E. Sprague Ave. was not put up for sale until after the chamber told the owner it was not exercising its option to buy.

The chamber announced last week that it would be closing the office at the end of May and consolidating its staff and programs at its second location in Liberty Lake. A news release and comments made by Shaw indicated the decision to move came after the building was put up for sale. The news release stated, “When it was determined in 2011 that the Spokane Valley building would be for sale, the chamber board of directors convened a task force to study the needs of the organization and to review all options.”

Building owner Julie Prafke said people have been asking her why she kicked out the chamber. “They had a five-year lease with a first right option for purchase,” she said. “When they first took the lease five years ago, I gave them a below-market rate.”

The chamber notified her it wasn’t interested in exercising the purchase option and that was when she put the building up for sale, Prafke said. The chamber was even offered free rent if they wanted to stay until the building sold, Prafke said.

“We still had the option of remaining a tenant in the building,” Shaw said. “It’s not that she pulled the rug out from under us. She’s never been anything but fair to us.”

The decision was purely a financial one, Shaw said. “It’s more space than we need,” she said. “This was a business decision. We told her we couldn’t buy the building and she decided to put it up for sale at that point in time.”

Prafke said she understands why the chamber wanted to move. “They had an opportunity to get cheaper space,” She said. “I don’t fault them for the move.”

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