A developer will begin cleanup on an old railroad maintenance complex in downtown Spokane with funding from the largest ever brownfields cleanup loan from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Coeur d’Alene-based River Front Properties LLC will use the $2.4 million federal loan to clean up Kendall Yards, located along the Spokane River’s north bank, starting Aug. 22.
A brownfield is an area that can’t be used due to low-level contaminants accumulated from its historical use. The land, formerly known as the Summit property, will subsequently be redeveloped.
Robin Toth, director of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council, has been part of the project team that assessed the site’s needs and helped to secure the loan. While it usually takes a year to 18 months to plan such projects, Toth said this one took only seven months because of well-coordinated efforts between city and state officials and the developer.
“The team that we convened to work on the assessment was working on a short timeframe,” Toth said, adding that the developer wanted the cleanup to begin as soon as possible.
“They’d like to start (redevelopment) as soon as the cleanup is complete,” she said.
The cleanup is expected to take four months, Roth said. The loan is so large because of the size of the site.
She said the old railroad yard is contaminated mainly with metals and petroleum.
Aside from cleanup costs, an initial assessment to determine the types of contaminants in the land and the most effective ways to get rid of them cost about $120,000, Toth said.
Work on the site will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to a news release. Contaminated materials will be hauled to Graham Road Landfill in Medical Lake, Toth said. The city has provided residents in the area with schedules of activities and maps of routes where trucks will be traveling with the excavated material. The haul route is along Bridge, Summit and Boone Avenues.
Toth said contractors will use water trucks to reduce dust in the area.
Brenda Corbett, chairwoman of the West Central Neighborhood Council, said the city had communicated with the neighborhood about potential plans for the site from the onset.
“We know there’s going to be an impact, but we’re very excited not only for the betterment of the area, but also the city. We’re definitely on board with it,” Corbett said.
Plans for future development include 1,500 residential units and 1.5 million square feet of retail and commercial space.
City of Spokane Economic Development Director John Pilcher called the area “a key piece of property,” with its location close to the river and downtown and said its mixed use redevelopment could be a boon for the city.
“It’s a fantastic asset for the community,” he said. “I don’t think one would find a major American city that has that much undeveloped land so close to the center.”
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