Stanek’s Nursery on the South Hill will close early next year, just one year shy of the family business’s 100th birthday.
A letter from owner Tim Stanek, posted on the nursery’s website, cites a land dispute with Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department as the reason for the closing.
The city, however, is contending the Staneks expressed plans to sell the business even if the land dispute was settled.
In the statement on the nursery’s website, owner Tim Stanek thanked customers and called the closing “bittersweet.”
The last day of business is expected to be Jan. 15.
“My decision is based upon a lease conflict with the Spokane Parks Department regarding a section of property east of my business that is used for our main parking area,” the statement said. “I have rejected their lease terms.”
Stanek declined to comment further Wednesday.
Leroy Eadie, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the Staneks approached the city earlier this year asking to buy a portion of the land the business had been using for a parking lot.
The land, located at 2929 E. 27th Ave., is about 50 feet by 300 feet along the Thornton-Murphy Park and accounts for about 30 parking spaces on the east side of the nursery.
Eadie said the family told the city they wanted to buy the land in order to sell it with the entire business.
It was then, Eadie said, that the city became aware that the business had worked out an unofficial handshake deal with a previous parks director to be able to use the land in exchange for landscaping in the area.
“We just can’t allow a business to use public property, taxpayer property, without compensation,” Eadie said.
The city told the family the land could only be for sale if voters approved it during a general election. They weren’t interested in that process, Eadie said, so the city tried to offer a lease deal of $1,238 a month for the property, which was appraised at $174,800.
Eadie said the family rejected the offer and told the city the business would close early next year.
There are no plans for the site, Eadie said, but if a new owner purchased the nursery property, the city would offer the same lease opportunity for the parking lot.
Nancy Goodspeed, communications director for the parks department, said it isn’t clear who paid for the pavement on the property.
Tim Stanek’s grandfather Frank Stanek founded the business in 1913, and it moved several times over the years. In 1948 Stanek’s moved to 29th Avenue and Regal Street, according to the nursery’s website. The business moved to its present site in 1957.
The nursery passed through the family from Frank Stanek to his son, who was also named Frank, and then to his grandsons Frank, Steve, Joe and Tim.
The Staneks have a long history of working with the city.
A 1972 Spokesman-Review article details a $55,300 landscaping bid the Staneks were awarded for a downtown beautification project. The Staneks installed about 600 trees downtown.
In 1963, the National Park Service awarded Stanek’s a $22,300 contract to install about 3,000 shrubs, trees, vines and evergreens at the Whitman Mission National Historical Site near Walla Walla.
Members of the Stanek family also own Stanek Enterprises, which has developed several areas in Spokane, including Boulevard Plaza on the South Hill.
But the nursery, which hosts events for its customers and will feature live reindeer next week, has been a fixture in the neighborhood for decades.
“If there is one key ingredient to the success of Stanek’s it has been their customers,” the company’s website states.
“Along with the quality product come great service, knowledge and friendships.”