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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Post Falls hopes to expand urban renewal district

Post Falls needs to include more land in an urban renewal district to pay for highway improvements, officials said Tuesday.

The Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency voted to expand the East Post Falls District up state Highway 41 to Prairie Avenue. The additional area would include a planned development of residences, office and retail space. The development is projected to increase the value of the land significantly and help fund an interchange at Greensferry Road and Interstate 90 and improvements to Highway 41, said Pat Raffee, executive director of the agency.

In an urban renewal district, the city freezes property taxes and some money generated from increased property values goes toward infrastructure improvements – road, water and sewer – instead of solely to local taxing authorities such as the city and county.

Such districts are a way to help encourage development. Post Falls’ planning and zoning commission and City Council would have to give their consent before anything can go forth.

But the city’s planned contribution to the highway project will expedite the process, said Scott Stokes, engineer with the Idaho Transportation Department. Post Falls’ participation will also allow the project to extend its improvements beyond the federal and state highways to city streets, Stokes said.

The current district is not generating enough funds to pay for the needed transportation improvements, Raffee said.

The agency’s board of commissioners voiced concerns Tuesday that residential areas should not be included in urban renewal districts, so the proposal was adjusted accordingly. Also, some commissioners were concerned that extending the plan 14 years — as was proposed — traps tax dollars for too long. So, individual agreements with developers will include provisions outlining specific goals to be completed in a shorter time.

Last week, the agency’s board voted to approve reopening the West Seltice District, near the Flexcel plant.

Greenstone Corp., a major developer, plans to add an industrial/commercial/retail segment to its residential property there, to create a live-work community. Other businesses are considering building offices in the area as a result of that.

Urban renewal’s Raffee said 3,700 to 3,800 jobs could be created.

The original West Seltice district was solely industrial and didn’t jumpstart economic development as predicted, Raffee said.

The proposed district will be less risky because it’s mixed-use, she said.

“The market forces are steadier overall. If one element falters, another element can pick up the slack.”

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