Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Developer ready to move ahead after decade delay on Spokane Valley acreage for 500-plus homes

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

When Black Realty purchased the bankrupt Painted Hills Golf Course for $1.1 million in October 2013, partner Brian Walker optimistically estimated it would take a year and a half for construction to begin in a development that was a mix of housing and commercial use.

Now, a decade later, the project appears to be close to its final permitting stages. The development company is working to finalize the environmental impact statement for the property, after which it will go before Spokane Valley’s hearings examiner for a public hearing. The hearings examiner will have the option to reject the development plan or approve it with or without conditions.

There are still multiple development options in play, Walker said.

“In an Environmental Impact Statement, you have to give multiple choices,” he said.

The 100-acre site could create up to 580 units in a planned residential development, which would include single-family homes, multifamily units and commercial sites. Black Realty has also committed to leaving 30 acres of open space. A second development option would be a 543-lot subdivision with no commercial use, multi-family housing or open space.

The site has been vacant since it was purchased, overrun with weeds and trespassing motorcycles and four-wheelers, Walker said. People regularly abandon vehicles at the site and dump trash there, all of which has to be cleaned up. Black Realty has done what it can, including posting no trespassing signs, but nothing has worked, he said.

“We put up signs and they tear them down the next day,” he said.

Neighbors were concerned about development plans for the property, partly because the site traditionally floods every year when nearby Chester Creek overflows its banks. Increased traffic related to multifamily housing was also a concern. Over the years neighbors have sent hundreds of letters to the city objecting to the development and at one point hired a lawyer to fight the project.

The company has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to design a water handling system that will deal with Chester Creek’s high waters by putting several channels underneath the road coming into the site and moving the water along to large drainage swales to filter the water before it seeps down into the aquifer.

“I think we’ve overengineered to handle any concerns about the water,” he said. “We can handle way, way more water than is coming to the property now.”

Black Realty has requested a Conditional Letter of Map Revision to FEMA to remove most of the Painted Hills site from the existing floodplain based on the new water handling system and on-site fill, said Spokane Valley spokeswoman Emily Estes-Cross.

Walker said he can’t say when exactly the environmental impact statement will be finalized and the project will come before the hearing examiner, but it should be soon. He said Black Realty has done what it can to address the neighbors’ concerns.

“I think the public is ready to see something happen on the property, finally,” he said.

Estes-Cross said the city will take several steps once the final environmental impact statement is received. “Once submitted, the FEIS will be reviewed for completeness by the City,” she said. “Following the release of the FEIS and required appeal period, the public hearing will be scheduled.”

During a recent update on the project before city council, senior planner Lori Barlow said she expects the community to still be interested in the project even though it has been a decade in the making. “It has garnered quite a bit of public interest over the years,” she said.

The city will release information about the project as it moves forward at