The U.S. Army says it will sell the Joe E. Mann Center in Hillyard, thwarting the city’s plans to redevelop the former Army Reserve facility.
The Spokane City Council, which was acting as the center’s Local Development Authority, worked hundreds of hours to find an appropriate buyer and use for the property, keeping the federal government in the loop along the way, said Ben Stuckart, council president.
“Out of the blue” the U.S. Army called and basically said, “you’re screwed,” Stuckart said today.
The council “is furious and confused by the actions of the U.S. Army,” Stuckart said. “Their failure to secure the property in the first place led to the School District (Spokane Public Schools) pulling out.”
The U.S. Army has had the Mann Center on its list for disposal since 2005. In 2010, the school district received authorization to buy it. While waiting for the Army to transfer the property to the U.S. Department of Education so the district could take ownership, the buildings were ravaged by thieves who stripped copper wiring and extensively damaged the property.
The district pulled out of the deal earlier this year and city officials have been working with potential buyers and the community to determine the appropriate use for the grounds.
The U.S. Army told the city that Spokane would have to pay full market value for the property, at 4415 N. Market St., or the military would sell it at a public auction, Stuckart said.
“When contacted by phone the U.S. Army representative explained that he could not really explain to us what happened when the approval went to the Under Secretary of the Army.”