May 25, 2012 in City

Spokane to cut real estate division

By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane is consolidating the management of the 1,600 pieces of land the city owns, Mayor David Condon said Friday.

The effort has two goals: eliminating “inconsistent” property management, and saving money, a city news release said.

The change is expected to make it easier to lease or sell property that’s no longer needed by the city. Any money from leases or sales will go into the city’s capital budget, the release said.

Condon also announced he’s eliminating the city’s real estate program, with an annual savings of $338,000. Much of that comes from the salaries of two full-time employees, Dave Perry and John Konen, and one seasonal employee.

Those jobs end on June 9. The $338,000 also includes program operating costs and equipment expenses, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

The real estate program focused “almost exclusively on right-of-way acquisition” for public works projects, the city’s news release said.

Feist said city engineering services staff will take on the job of right-of-way property acquisition.

For large or complicated deals the city will turn to private sector real estate agents, Feist said.

Of the city’s property, “some… should return to the private sector for development, and the rest should be managed to improve city operations and to benefit our citizens,” Condon said in the release.

Those 1,600 pieces range from large plots like Manito Park to slivers of right-of-way along roads and near private businesses.

All together, the city’s land parcels total 9,253 acres with an estimated value of $583 million, according to the county assessor.

Roughly one third — about 3,000 acres — are protected properties managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The property totals also include Spokane Airport and Felts Field, which the city owns jointly with Spokane County.

Future land sales or leases will be under the city’s business and developer services division, now directed by Jan Quintrall.

Condon’s release said Quintrall is in charge of creating an asset management program that will keep a closer eye on the land the city owns.

“We must evolve the management of city assets to reach the highest and best use of land, buildings, and facilities owned by the city,” Condon’s press release said.

All sales of property would go have to be approved by the city council.

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