POST FALLSSpokane developer Harry Greens vision for the former Louisiana-Pacific Corp. mill site here involves nothing less than forging a new city center, complete with a town square, a relocated City Hall, and a shoreline park.
At a public presentation last week, Greens architect, Spencer Johnson, of Seattle-based Callison Architecture Inc., laid out Greens vision, while cautioning that its only thata vision.
The plan hasnt been tested by feasibility or market studies, and its unclear whether it would make money, Johnson says, adding, We want to stay flexible.
Green says he hasnt formulated a timeline yet for the project, which he calls the Point at Post Falls. The Spokane developer bought the defunct mill site from Louisiana-Pacific last month for close to $1.75 million. L-P, a Portland-based wood-products company, closed its sawmill there in 1995.
The 33-acre property is situated along the north bank of the Spokane River, between Spokane Street and Falls Park.
Johnson says the final plan could end up being very different than the plan he presented to a generally appreciative audience at the WestCoast Templins Resort, but for now, it starts with a narrow park that would hug the propertys shoreline. Up an embankment from the park, a boardwalk would connect a hotel on the west side of the property, near Falls Park, to a marina at its eastern edge, across the river from QEmilin Park.
A three-sided town square ringed by retail shops would open up onto the boardwalkr, and would be the heart of the development. Restaurants and nightclubs would radiate out along the boardwalk, serving as magnets to draw people to the project, Johnson says. The current plan devotes about 65,000 square feet of space to retail and restaurant and entertainment uses, he says.
During the day, workers would occupy about 240,000 square feet of office space that could be built atop or behind the retail space and would overlook the boardwalk, the plan shows.Some of the commercial space could be replaced by condominium units, Johnson says.
He envisions some kind of civic participation in the project, which is a key component, he says, adding, Once youve got that, youve got a downtown.
Drawings displayed by Johnson show a new Post Falls City Hall occupying land owned by longtime Post Falls businessman Bob Templin near the northeast corner of the mill site. Railroad tracks separate Templins property from Greens, but Johnson says the two areas could be linked in some fashion for access between the properties.
Templin says he hasnt had any discussions with the city about acquiring his property, but says, It could be good for the project to have City Hall involved with it.
Clay Larkin, mayor of Post Falls, says the city has had no proposals come to us about moving City Hall, but says city officials are enthusiastic about plans for the project in general.
Other civic projects that could be considered for the development include a community center, a 900-seat performing-arts center, a YMCA facility, or a museum, Johnson says. Callisons plan right now envisions about 137,000 square feet of civic space.
Johnson says Green and Callison are committed to adapting the project to Post Falls demographics as well as its history. They will not, he promised, try to make it something that its not.
That might mean turning an old water tower on the propertys eastern edge into the symbol of the project, or lighting the rivers rock formations and nearby dam so that they can be seen at night from the property.
It also means that the hotel, restaurants, and shops in the development wouldnt be ultra-expensive, because the local market wont support such businesses, and the project definitely is intended to serve the local market, he says.
The river is important to the projects financial success, Johnson says.
Real estate is extremely enhanced when people can see boats, he says, hence the inclusion of a marina.
He likened the Post Falls project to another Callison development, Carillon Point, in Kirkland, Wash., east of Seattle. Office space there commands the highest rents on the West Coast, he asserts.
Its still possible, however, that the Post Falls project wont include any office space at all, he says. It might all be residential, and market studies will guide that decision, he says.
The important thing is to build the project looking ahead to Post Falls future, which most planners and prognosticators believe includes substantial population growth, Johnson says.
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