Post Falls city officials have been contacted separately over the past six months by two development groups that claim theyre interested in constructing large, destination-type venues either in the North Idaho city or across the border in Spokane County.
Though the development groups havent met formally yet, theyve learned of one anothers proposals and are discussing the possibility of merging their efforts into one project as well as doing a joint venture directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, in New Jersey.
Stacy Akana, owner of Xarbin Industries LLC, of Post Falls, and the head of one of the two groups, has been talking with Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin and city administrator Eric Keck for six months regarding a plan to build an indoor velodrome, which is a sporting arena built specifically for track cycling and speed skating. Akana claims the facility would seat 50,000 spectators and could be expanded.
Jim Adkins, president and CEO of the other development group, Messengers of Peace Development Corp., of Cherry Hill, N.J., says that group wants to build a large, three-dome education and technology complex.
Both projects would include many more buildings in a mixed-use format, and either likely would cost many millions of dollars, but Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin prescribes caution.
We have a generic overview of what Akana proposes to do, and have seen some pencil drawings, but we cant even tell him what hurdles hes facing until we know what his plans are, Larkin says.
Larkin says hes too unfamiliar with the Messengers of Peace proposal to comment on it and has seen only a three-paragraph e-mail about it late last month.
We see many projects that are interesting, but very few business plans that accompany them, he says.
Still, Eric Keck, city administrator for Post Falls, says, These projects together would put Post Falls on the global map.
The two development groups say the projects would include many additional buildings, including hotels.
Neither is willing for now to disclose the names of financial backers they say theyve identified for their respective projects.
The property they are eyeing in Post Falls includes about 150 acres of land just south of Interstate 90 near the Spokane River, south of a 125,000-square-foot sporting-goods store that Sydney, Neb.-based Cabelas Inc. currently is building. The three land owners there are Hanson Industries Inc., of Spokane Valley; Green Group Inc., of Tuscaloosa, Ala, which owns the Greyhound Park & Event Center there; and Jacklin Seed by Simplot Inc., a subsidiary of Boise, Idaho-based Simplot Corp.
Discussions between the development groups and those landowners are in early stages, says Akana.
Both development groups say theyve looked at other potential sites in North Idaho and Washington, but Post Falls is their No. 1 choice.
Adkins says Messengers is in the process of closing on the purchase of a 103-acre part of a former landfill site controlled by the borough of Palmyra, N.J., for the proposed project across the Delaware from Philadelphia. Messengers is paying $4.5 million for the property, he says.
Palmyra Mayor John Gural says the borough has a memorandum of understanding with Renova Partners LLC, a Wellesley, Mass., development company, for development of the entire 180-acre landfill area, which includes the 103 acres Messengers is proposing to buy.
Pete Pedersen, of the Massachusetts company, and Adkins both say Messengers of Peace is working to develop an education and technology complex on the 103 acres. Adkins says Messengers of Peace has long-term plans to develop other such complexes besides the one in New Jersey and the one it would like to build in Post Falls.
The St. Maries Gazette Record newspaper has reported that Akana, through Werkes LLC, has proposed a 600-acre, 50-home equestrian community in North Idahos Benewah County. Akana says Werkes LLC is one of six companies he owns under the Xarbin Industries umbrella.
Akana also says hes developing a 180-acre, nine-home gated community, called Eagle Rock, about six miles east of Liberty Lake, in Idaho.
The proposed velodrome would include a banked 300-meter skating track and a banked 500-meter cycling track around it, Akana says.
He says an ice rink big enough to stage hockey matches would be built inside the skating track.
Messengers mixed-use proposal would include retail, housing, and a hotel, but would focus around three domes that each would have about 70,000 square feet of floor space, Adkins says. The proposed domes would include a conservatory, with a botanical garden, rain forest, and waterfall; a dome featuring space technology; and an events dome, with a performing arts theater and other attractions in it, Adkins says.
Keck says if an application to build such a complex were submitted to the city of Post Falls, its likely the city would need new transportation, water, and sewer studies to determine if it could support such potential growth.
He also expresses concern about where workers would come from to fill the large number of jobs such a proposed development could create.
Contact Rocky Wilson at (509) 344-1264 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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