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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Massive Apartment Project Resurrected Developer Seeks New Grading Permit For 790 Units In Southwest Spokane

Nearly a year after the city of Spokane revoked the project’s building permits, Mission Springs developers again are trying to build the region’s largest apartment complex.

“The developers are certainly showing some interest in the project,” said Bob Eugene, the city’s top building official.

The controversial project could put 790 apartments on Thorpe Road in southwest Spokane.

Resurrection of the project distresses members of the Thorpe-Westwood Neighborhood Association, who say a number of environmental concerns need to be addressed before the complex can be built.

“I have no bad feelings about the housing project if it’s done right,” said Chuck Culp, whose property adjoins the proposed project. “It’s just that right now, I have to wait four to five minutes to get out of my driveway in the morning.”

Several calls over a three-day period to Mission Springs project coordinator Don Troppman, of Sacramento, Calif., were not returned.

Troppman asked that questions be faxed to him, but he never answered them.

The city last May revoked all the project’s building permits because developers failed to continue work at the site.

Just two months before, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew $12 million in loan guarantees for the project’s first phase.

Mission Springs owner and developer Richard Lugli was seriously injured in a car crash in late 1993, which slowed the project’s progress.

Lugli’s representatives recently applied for a new grading permit for the 82 acres. The state Transportation Department and other agencies are reviewing the application, Eugene said.

Thorpe-Westwood residents tried for nearly two years to delay construction of the $45 million Mission Springs project on Thorpe Road just west of U.S. Highway 195. They say they never wanted to stop the project - they just wanted their concerns addressed.

They fear that hundreds of new cars will make two narrow tunnels on Thorpe Road more dangerous. More traffic also would stress intersections where U.S. Highway 195 connects with Thorpe Road and Interstate 90.

They also worry about the project’s effects on wildlife and springs.

Neighbors want a new environmental impact statement, saying one done in 1981 was incomplete and inaccurate.

“There was so much information not included in the environmental impact statement,” said Pete Powell, the neighborhood group’s former president. “For (the city) to ignore that is deplorable.”

As far as the city is concerned, issues about fire safety, wetlands and springs have been adequately addressed by the developer, city officials said. It’s up to the state Transporation Department to rule on traffic issues.

“Thus far, I haven’t heard of any reason we could ask for more (environmental study),” said Irv Reed, director of planning services.

Real estate sources say the land is on the market.

Building permits could be applied for shortly after the grading permits are issued, and the developer could get them by mid-summer, Eugene said. The permits would cover the first phase of the project - 193 apartments.

The project has been fraught with controversy, even among city staff members, for several years.

Reed recently told the City Council about renewed interest in Mission Springs, saying, “Quite frankly, we’re not very happy with it.”

During a council meeting a year ago, City Manager Roger Crum held up several inches of files on the project, saying he didn’t usually involve himself in building permits.

Problems with the project changed that.

“From the staff point of view, we would just as soon this whole thing went away,” Crum said at the time.

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