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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Parker Howell

This individual is no longer an employee with The Spokesman-Review.

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News >  Spokane

Ledge ducks’ story helps refuge birds

A mama duck’s ill-advised roost on a Spokane window ledge has helped her fellow fowl at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge land $5,000. Sterling Savings Bank concluded a monthlong Bucks for Ducks fundraiser to celebrate the safe passage of the mallard hen and her 12-duckling brood, who were hatched on the edifice of the bank’s downtown office.
News >  Business

In a down market

What some North Idaho residential real estate observers early this year thought would be a momentary market correction has turned into a different beast. With a national economic crisis hurting consumer confidence and a credit crunch affecting both buyers and builders, home sales and housing construction have dropped dramatically.
News >  Business

Officials promote University District

Even in tough economic times, the University District will be at the center of economic growth in Spokane, representatives of local government, universities and businesses asserted Thursday. Officials touted recent efforts to implement a four-year-old strategic plan for the district, which they envision as a melting pot of academia and entrepreneurship. Avista Corp. has loaned an executive to serve as project manager, prioritizing potential projects and seeking sustainable funding. Both the city and Greater Spokane Inc. have pledged tens of thousands of dollars.

News >  Business

Florida firm settles with state A.G.

Another company that claimed to help save Washington homeowners from foreclosure – but purportedly did little or nothing in return for its fees – has agreed to a settlement with the state attorney general’s office. The state alleged Clearwater, Fla.-based United Home Savers LLP charged customers $1,200 or more up front, but routinely did not refund the money if it couldn’t help them, as the company promised. The now-defunct company and owners Darin and Stephanie Dietschy, of Belleair Beach, Fla., do not admit guilt in the Wednesday settlement, filed in Spokane County Superior Court.
News >  Business

Part of South Hill big-box challenge rejected

A state hearings board this week rejected some arguments made by concerned neighbors against a city decision that cleared the way for potential big-box stores on three South Hill parcels. Some Southgate neighborhood residents contended the city violated the state’s Growth Management Act, in part by failing to use a neighborhood planning process to designate the parcels, near South Regal Street and the Palouse Highway, for development as commercial centers. But the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board said Monday the residents failed to prove their arguments, and the board dismissed that part of the case.
News >  Business

High price of affordability

A public agency rehabilitating two historic Spokane buildings to house low-income tenants expects to spend as much as $245,000 per apartment. That’s more than the average price of single-family houses sold in Spokane County so far this year – a fact that has some private developers scratching their heads and Northeast Washington Housing Solutions defending escalating costs.
News >  Spokane

Home builders tour draws all sorts

Buddy and Lauri Aguiar had visited more than a dozen homes when they parked their Lexus SUV in front of a $745,000 townhouse on the hills overlooking Spokane Valley. The retirees from Texas own a home in the area, but it does not have all the features they wanted. And prices are “getting more reasonable” with the downturn in the housing market, Buddy Aguiar said. In fact, that Lexington Homes property was marked down to $670,000 for the remainder of the Fall Festival of Homes.
News >  Business

MetroSpokane blog administrator quits popular 4-year-old site

After four years critiquing local development and observing urban life in Spokane, the administrator of a popular local blog signed off earlier this week. With daily posts on topics including transportation, architecture and neighborhood businesses, MetroSpokane caught the eye of city officials and journalists. But its facilitator, Brian Jennings, was spending a couple hours a day on the site, metrospokane.typepad.com. Jennings said he will no longer make new posts to the site.
News >  Business

Local investors, advisers react to economic climate

Congress’ rejection Monday of a proposed Wall Street rescue plan frustrated Spokane investors and advisers, who said some action must be taken to avoid a replay of the 777-point plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average. Without quick reconsideration of the plan voted down in the U.S. House of Representatives, or a slightly modified version, the pain in the financial markets will hit Americans harder than they suspect, some predicted.
News >  Business

Home buyer turns to homeless

The owner of a business that acquires homes in danger of foreclosure thinks he has found a novel way to help the homeless: using them as walking billboards. Steve McMullen paid panhandlers on busy downtown Spokane street corners to wear bright yellow T-shirts and hand out fliers on Friday promoting his Post Falls company, Highland Financial LLC. He hired six people for $25 each.
News >  Business

Report challenges impact fee value

Every 100 homes built in Spokane County generate an estimated $50.1 million in local income, nearly $8 million in taxes and 77 permanent jobs over the first 10 years of their lifespan. That’s one conclusion of an economic impact report by the National Association of Home Builders presented to local homebuilders and public officials this week. In another report, the association asserts the economic impact of new homes outweighs the costs to local governments of increasing public services to accommodate them.
News >  Business

Baptist camp may sell part of river site

Another patch of the Spokane River shoreline near Post Falls may become homes under a plan to develop part of the Ross Point Baptist Camp. The Post Falls City Council this week approved a zoning change that would clear the way for a 17-lot subdivision on eight acres on the west side of the camp, at 820 S. Ross Point Road. The camp, owned by the Washington Baptist Convention, would net about $1.6 million from sales of the homes. That would cover about half the cost of a proposed expansion project envisioned by the camp’s board, said Executive Director John Batchelder.
News >  Business

City to pay Cloninger $7 million

A Spokane architect and partners will receive roughly $7 million in exchange for their property south of the convention center and dropping a lawsuit against the city, under a deal the Spokane Public Facilities District board approved Tuesday. Hashed out in negotiations last week, the settlement calls for the district to pay $116.50 per square foot for land owned by a group spearheaded by Glen Cloninger. The property consists of parking lots and one building on the south block along Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main Street.
News >  Business

Spokane economy earns high ranking

Propelled by long-term job growth and an increase in the value of high-tech goods produced by its economy, Spokane ranked No. 35 of the 200 largest, “best performing” metro areas measured annually by economic think tank Milken Institute. Spokane jumped 46 spots on the list – which measures areas’ abilities to create and maintain jobs – making it one of the biggest gainers this year.
News >  Business

Call center company to add 400 jobs

A Spokane Valley call center company plans to add about 400 jobs in the next 18 months, Greater Spokane Inc. said Friday. Newtown, Pa.-based ICT Group Inc.’s expansion is expected to bring in more than 300 customer service positions and 70 management employees – a welcome announcement in a week when many Spokane-area workers lost jobs and hundreds of others learned of potential layoffs. Spokane manufacturer EZ Loader Boat Trailers, which employed about 140 people, recently laid off 10 employees and temporarily closed its shop this week, said Bill Lang, vice president.
News >  Business

Kia, Suzuki dealerships settle suit

The Washington state attorney general’s office has settled with a company that operates Spokane Kia and Spokane Suzuki in response to an investigation into a customer’s complaint that she was sold a used car she thought was new, officials announced Thursday. The settlement with Kane Automotive Group also applies to a related company, Wenatchee Valley’s Truck and Auto Outlet Inc., which operates Kia and Suzuki outlets in Wenatchee.
News >  Business

Condo protest allowed to go on

A Spokane man can continue his protest of a condo building near his house, so long as he does not target a Realtor with signs or call her, a Spokane County District Court commissioner decided Tuesday. Commissioner Charles Rohr dismissed requests by Realtor Marianne Guenther and developer Jeremy Tangen for Jim Mahoney to be barred from continuing his demonstration, consisting of oddly dressed mannequins and signs ridiculing the project, or from contacting potential buyers at the Cathedral Point condos, 2 E. Sumner Ave. But Rohr ordered Mahoney not to pinpoint Guenther on his signs or contact her by phone.
News >  Business

Nonprofit purchases Martindale building

Fifty units of low-income housing lost when the Martindale Apartments in Hillyard closed last spring are slated for revival after a Spokane nonprofit bought the structure at auction. Northeast Washington Housing Solutions bought the foreclosed building, 5313 N. Regal St., late last month for $651,000. But it may take two or three years, and an estimated $11.8 million, to revamp the aging structure – if the organization can find the money.
News >  Business

Board overturns zoning change

Spokane County violated the state’s Growth Management Act and its own comprehensive plan when it granted a zone change allowing McGlades Bistro & Wine Bar in Colbert to reopen, the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled. The board invalidated the zone change, remanding the zoning decision to county commissioners. It is unclear how the ruling affects plans to reopen McGlades, 4301 E. Day-Mt. Spokane Road, which new owners had expected to do Sept. 16.
News >  Business

HOT ZONE HANGS ON

Age and wear have faded the spray-painted logos touting the Spokane Hot Zone on downtown street corners. The wireless Internet café in River Park Square is long gone.
News >  Business

Condo protester creates ‘blight’ to make a point

A South Hill resident’s unusual protest of a four-story condominium building across from his house is drawing attention to a once-sleepy street. Offended that the building blocked his view of the landmark St. John’s Cathedral, Jim Mahoney weeks ago began installing an evolving menagerie of weird mannequins in his front yard.
News >  Business

Condo partner files suit

A partner in Don Barbieri’s high-profile riverside condo building is suing the Spokane businessman, alleging Barbieri and companies he owns overstated costs by more than $3 million to avoid sharing project profits. GVL Investors LLC, held by Flour Mill owner Maxwell Drever, asks for an independent accounting of income from the 32-unit Upper Falls condominiums, unspecified monetary damages and attorney fees and costs, according to the lawsuit filed in Spokane County Superior Court.
News >  Business

Condo sales take a hit

When business owner Jim Hanley and his family purchased an old, three-story brick building downtown a couple years ago, they foresaw creating seven upscale condominiums. Part of that vision came together: Equipped with stainless steel appliances, custom concrete counters and the latest audio-visual connections, some of the units inside the old Comet Press building at First and Washington may be just weeks away from occupancy.
News >  Business

Residents hope to salvage burned timber

A wildfire spared Toby Rodrigues’ home last month when it roared through the gated community where he lives near Dishman Hills Natural Area. He was not so fortunate with his tree-covered acreage. The blaze left many of the Ponderosa pines on his property with charred trunks and brown tops.
News >  Business

Vacancy at Ridpath as hotel closes doors

In a move to stop financial losses at one of Spokane’s oldest hotels, owners of the Ridpath have shuttered the downtown business for at least four months and laid off most of the staff. They hope to revamp the building and reopen the roughly 200-room hotel as a Clarion Suites franchise, said Douglas Da Silva, a managing member for owner 515 Washvada Investments LLC.