The Spokane City Council on Monday unanimously approved a police department proposal to purchase a Hillyard warehouse from a retired police captain.
Deputy Mayor Jack Lynch assured council members that the negotiated purchase from retired Capt. Chuck Crabtree did not involve any impropriety and that money for the purchase was coming from a special fund derived from the sale of forfeited criminal property, not the general tax fund that pays police salaries.
An appraisal at a cost of about $2,000 is planned prior to closing. But city officials so far have relied on a market analysis by an independent commercial real estate agent to confirm the price, said Dave Mandyke, assistant director of public works and utilities.
Council President Dennis Hession noted that the deal is contingent on the appraisal being acceptable to the city. He asked Lynch to provide council members with a copy of the appraisal prior to closing the deal.
The police department is seeking the North Market Street warehouse for $410,000 to provide new space for holding evidence seized in criminal cases. One of the real estate agents working for Crabtree is retired Assistant Police Chief John Sullivan.
The council was initially briefed about the deal by a police official on March 14, but the relationships between the department, Crabtree and Sullivan were not mentioned during that session.
Lynch said he and other members of the administration were told by department brass several weeks ago about Crabtree’s ownership.
Later, in an interview, Lynch said he explained to the council the connection with Crabtree after press coverage made it an issue.
He said the department has been searching for a site for at least two years, and had purchased property on the West Plains. However, it would cost an estimated $1.5 million to develop that property, he said.
Police said they would postpone developing their own facility and use the Crabtree warehouse in the interim.
“Our folks are convinced it is exactly what we need in a good location at a reasonable price,” Lynch said.
Mandyke said city officials didn’t want to spend money on the appraisal until they were sure the council was willing to buy the property.
Hession pointed out that the city has not put up any earnest money and can withdraw from the deal.
Crabtree retired from the department in 1981 as captain and went into business.
He purchased the North Market property in 2000 for about $100,000 and spent an estimated $231,000 on developing the site with 6,250 square feet of storage and 1,512 square feet of office.
In other business Monday, the council approved new licensing rules for cab drivers that would prohibit anyone convicted of a Level II or Level III sex crime, or for failing to appear in court on any charges, including traffic charges.
The council also approved a $6 million transfer of money as part of a previously approved settlement in a River Park Square parking garage dispute. The money goes from a parking meter revenue escrow fund to a city-held fund established for repayment of a federally backed loan for RPS construction in the late 1990s.
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