The City of Spokane Valley is buying the former Valley location of the White Elephant for $2.2 million and may one day convert the building into a police station.
The Spokane Valley City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize staff to buy the White Elephant building at 12614 E. Sprague Ave. The White Elephant, a surplus store that sold toys and outdoors supplies, closed in July 2020 after 40 years in business.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to possibly expand our operations there for the police and public safety departments, which is one of our focus points for the city,” Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick said during the meeting.
Wick said Wednesday that the City Council has not discussed how the White Elephant building and the 3 acres it sits on could specifically be used.
“It’s just gives us the flexibility,” Wick said. “It allows us to keep on that same location (next to the precinct) and just expand our footprint.”
Spokane Valley Police Chief Dave Ellis said that he does not know how City Council might want to use the White Elephant property in the future, but he noted that his department’s precinct building next door is full to capacity.
“This will give us a chance in the future to be able to, at some point, build a larger police station, have more parking, more storage, all of those kinds of things,” Ellis said.
The current precinct building is a converted Pep Boys shared by both the Spokane Valley Police Department and Spokane Valley District Court.
Ellis noted that as the city grows it will need to hire more officers. The current building will be insufficient for an expanded police department, Ellis said.
In 2019, Spokane Valley bought an acre of land behind the precinct building. That purchase was also done with future expansion in mind, Ellis said.
The City Council did not include the White Elephant purchase as an action item on its published Tuesday agenda.
The council met in executive session prior to the Tuesday meeting. Spokane Valley City Attorney Cary Driskell said that meeting was to discuss a real estate purchase.
At the start of the regular Tuesday meeting, which happened soon after the executive session, the council moved to amend its agenda in order to add the White Elephant property purchase as an action item. City Councilwoman Brandi Peetz said in her motion that the purchase and sale agreement was made on July 29.
The City Council unanimously approved the motion to authorize staff to buy the White Elephant, but only Wick had anything to say about the acquisition.
The White Elephant property is next to the Spokane Valley Police Precinct at 12710 E. Sprague Ave.
That location gave the building “a particular strategic importance to the city,” Driskell said.
“This would allow the city to secure its law enforcement needs well, well into the future, for 50 to 75 years,” Driskell said.
In 2021, Spokane County assessed the White Elephant property at $1.3 million. The Greene Realty Group had the property listed online for $1.9 million.
The city does not intend to use the property in the near future, Driskell said. The sale should be finalized by September.