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Spokane Valley, Spokane County embarking on $10 million Fair & Expo Center expansion

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 23, 2021

Spokane Valley and Spokane County are partnering on a $10 million expansion project that calls for a new 32,000-square-foot conference facility that will connect to the existing Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.  (Architects West Inc.)
Spokane Valley and Spokane County are partnering on a $10 million expansion project that calls for a new 32,000-square-foot conference facility that will connect to the existing Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (Architects West Inc.)

Spokane County and Spokane Valley are partnering to boost retail spending and tourism with a $10 million-expansion project at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

The proposed two-story, 32,000-square foot building will connect to the northwest side of the existing Fair and Expo Center at 404 N. Havana St. in Spokane Valley, said Mike Basinger, Spokane Valley’s economic development manager.

The expansion will create a multiuse facility designed to host larger events, in addition to providing flexible conference room space for multiple groups.

The expansion will include a 16,000-square-foot exhibit hall for trade shows and events, a 2,000-square-foot lobby and 4,000-square feet of space for a full-service restaurant/brewery – which would operate year-round – with indoor and outdoor seating.

On the upper floor, the building would accommodate 7,800 square feet of space for several conference rooms. The expansion also calls for a 2,500-square-foot administration office.

The full-service restaurant could provide on-site catering for corporate and fundraising events, small private parties and celebrations as well as offer an additional dining option for workers whose companies are located near the fairgrounds, Basinger said.

“There’s an enormous amount of industries surrounding the fairgrounds. Right now, the only place to go (for dining) is East Sprague Avenue,” Basinger said. “We feel like it could bring (a full-service restaurant) to the area that’s just not there right now.”

The expansion project also provides an opportunity to work with the Spokane Indians as Minor League Baseball’s potential schedule changes may result in longer seasons, Basinger said.

“The whole idea is to make a stadium district,” he said. “So when you are done with a ballgame, there’s something to do.”

The expansion, when complete, is estimated to generate $34,000 in annual sales tax revenue for the city and $3.9 million in annual visitor spending, according to Seattle-based consulting firm Community Attributes Inc.

Spokane Valley consulted with Community Attributes in 2015 to analyze the city’s retail offerings.

Community Attributes identified a strong connection between retail and tourism development, but also found the city lagged in retail sales per capita in tourism-related sectors, such as lodging, food service and drinking places, performing arts and spectator sports.

The city partnered with the county and began exploring the concept of expanding the Fair and Expo Center in 2017.

The Fair and Expo Center is located in Spokane Valley city limits. Spokane County, however, owns the land. The county will manage, operate and maintain the proposed conference building.

The Fair and Expo Center, which has 140,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 5,200-square-foot grandstand area and livestock facilities for the Spokane County Interstate Fair, has hosted a variety of RV, auto and boat shows, equestrian events, and hobby, craft and vintage shows.

Spokane Valley is funding the expansion project with $2.9 million in lodging tax revenue. The city is also requesting $4 million in state capital funding. The remaining amount would be funded through bonds, Basinger said.

The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Greater Spokane Incorporated and Spokane County are supporting the expansion project in their legislative agendas, Basinger added.

Coeur d’Alene-based Architects West provided a conceptual design of the project. The city has not yet selected a firm to design the project.

Construction on the expansion project is anticipated to begin in 2023, dependent upon funding, Basinger said.

This article was updated Jan. 23 to reflect that Architects West provided a conceptual design of the project, but the city has not yet selected a firm to complete the final design.

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