April 5, 2013 in Business

Five adjacent properties across from Manito Park to be sold separately

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The family whose late mother owned five houses across from Manito Park on Grand Boulevard has given up selling them as a group.
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The heirs of a longtime South Hill property owner have abandoned plans to sell five side-by-side residences near Manito Park to a single buyer.

For more than a month, the six children of Anne Mealey have tried to sell all five homes on South Grand Boulevard for $589,000.

With no offer near that price, family members are now set on selling the homes separately. The homes, used as rentals for decades, line the 1800 block of South Grand facing Manito Park.

Realtors say seeing five homes on sale together happens rarely except when neighborhoods are in transition, disrupted by highway or commercial expansion.

Mealey, a longtime Spokane educator, died last summer at the age of 84. Three of her children live in the Spokane and Post Falls areas; the others live across the country.

Bob Cooke, president of R.H. Cooke & Associates, which is listing the properties, said Mealey inherited one of the five homes about 40 years ago.

“One by one she began buying the other houses on the street when they became available,” Cooke said.

The location near one of the city’s premier parks has generated interest but not a price that meets the family’s expectations. “We’ve had about a dozen offers, both for the group and for some separately,” Cooke said.

Offers for all five homes have come in around $500,000, which the family rejected, he added. Cooke calls those low bids the result of the “Costco effect,” the buyer’s belief that bulk purchases should come with a discount.

Selling them off in a group was the family’s preferred option.

“They felt it was easier that way than trying to find five different buyers and then go through five different closings,” Cooke said.

After a meeting this week, Mealey’s children agreed to list each property separately, from $93,000 to $127,000.

The highest-priced home is listed at above assessed value. The others – “fixer-uppers” in Cooke’s opinion – are listed below assessed value in order to sell quickly, Cooke said.

The top-priced house at 1827 S. Grand is the best in the group, Cooke said. “It’s in fantastic condition. It’s been well taken care of,” he said. It’s a two-bedroom, one-bath residence built in the 1920s, as all four others were.

Two of those four houses have been converted into upstairs-downstairs duplexes.

This week Cooke received an offer from a couple for two of the homes. But the offer comes with several big contingencies, and Cooke said it’s unlikely the family will approve that deal.

Some neighbors have had concerns about the decline in the properties’ value as renters have come and gone over recent years.

“Most of the (houses) are not in very good shape. They need some real work,” said Juli Nelson, a homeowner on the same block.

“It would be a good thing if new owners came in and improved them,” she said.

But Nelson said she’d strongly oppose a buyer tearing down all five houses and trying to develop a commercial building.

“That would really be a waste of a good view of the park,” she said.

Manito neighbors strongly fought a plan for a four-story building with more than 20 condos at 20th Avenue and Grand, proposed by Rob Brewster in 2005. Some neighbors also opposed plans for a Providence Health clinic on the same corner across from the proposed condos. Eventually the city approved the clinic and a modified plan that created eight duplex apartments instead of the condos.

Cooke said one option is tearing down the houses and putting up a “cottage housing” project. Cottage housing includes a group of small-footprint residences that are built together on parcels of one acre or less.

But Cooke said “it would be an uphill battle” for any developer trying to do something other than single-family units there. “It would involve public hearings and dealing with the Manito neighborhood group,” Cooke said. “It wouldn’t be easy.”

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