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Proposed apartment project at former Elks Lodge site concerns some residents

The Elks Club building. seen Tuesday, May 8, 2018, near Pines Road south of Interstate 90, is now boarded up, and the land is ready to be redeveloped with a new apartment complex of more than 300 units on 12 acres. For decades, the building hosted parties, camping and fundraisers for the Elks Club members. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The Elks Club building. seen Tuesday, May 8, 2018, near Pines Road south of Interstate 90, is now boarded up, and the land is ready to be redeveloped with a new apartment complex of more than 300 units on 12 acres. For decades, the building hosted parties, camping and fundraisers for the Elks Club members. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A group of Spokane Valley residents are concerned that a proposed 322-unit apartment development at the former Elks Lodge site could change the character of their neighborhood.

The proposed development, Spokane Valley Elks Apartments, that would be built at 2605 N. Robie Road, calls for three stories of apartments with a clubhouse, parking and amenities on 12 acres.

Todd Whipple of Whipple Consulting Engineers, who is the project engineer, filed permits with the city on Jan. 11 to demolish the former Elks Lodge to make way for the multifamily apartment complex.

Spokane Valley Elks Lodge Secretary Lynn Hurd told The Spokesman-Review in January members outgrew the building and that’s why they chose to sell the land and relocate.

Project developer Dennis Crapo of Diamond Rock Construction Inc. purchased the land from Elks members for $1.7 million, according to Spokane County assessor’s records.

Whipple and Crapo in January proposed a 298-unit apartment complex, but the project density has since increased by 24 units.

Residents, who attended a traffic study for the proposed development on April 25, are worried the project’s size will increase traffic by more than 800 daily trips on Pines Road.

“That whole area is a terrible issue, and the traffic density is only going to get worse there because of these apartments. I don’t think you have looked far enough out to what this is going to do to this area,” one resident said to Whipple at the traffic study.

Resident Connie Jensen and her neighbors, who live near the proposed development, are concerned about the developer’s plan to extend a driveway through their dead-end cul-de-sac.

There’s people who bought their homes on the cul-de-sac more than 30 years ago and are worried about their rights to protect their investment, she said.

“We understand there is going to be development up there, we get that, but what we are wanting is not to have overdevelopment as well,” Jensen said. “It seems as there is no infrastructure up there, there’s no roads, they are going to have to blast around the water tower. It seems like it’s not a great place to build.”

Another resident said infrastructure east of Pines Road supports multifamily development with several existing apartment complexes and plots of land for sale.

“Just because you can put 200 or 300 units there, why are you doing it when the infrastructure is already there east of Pines and there’s also signs that say there’s lots for sale along Mansfield (Avenue)?” a resident asked Whipple. “I’m looking at all this wonderful infrastructure and I can’t figure out why it’s not being used to its full extent. Instead, we are going across Pines Road … we have all of this wonderful land east of Pines that’s still not being developed.”

The site is zoned multifamily residential, which will limit the project to 22 units per acre, according to the Spokane Valley planning department.

However, because it’s in a preliminary stage, the city will need to determine that it meets density requirements after a site survey is completed and when the building permit is submitted, the planning department said.

Whipple said the site zoning is appropriate for residential use and with the city expecting thousands of new residents over the next 20 years, their job is to ensure the development meets the street standards of the city and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“We can’t make it worse for you than it is,” he told the residents. “This is the land use we are going to use to take those 14,000 or 24,000 residents … so there’s going to be development and there’s going to be new people.”

Jensen said a group of residents plan to canvas the neighborhood with notices of a second traffic study meeting to ensure everyone that could be affected by the development is aware of it.

“I can’t imagine how 800 daily trips is going to not make it worse at this point,” she said.

A second traffic study, which is open to the public, will be held May 24 at Trent Elementary School from 5 to 6 p.m.


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