The city of Spokane Valley’s plan to build a new City Hall makes good business sense on a number of levels, both for the city itself and the community it serves.
As the Journal’s Mike McLean reported late last month, Spokane Valley bought 3.4 acres of land at the old University City Mall site and plans to hire an architect soon to design the 10-year-old city’s first permanent home. The goal, city officials said, is to have the structure move-in ready by March 1, 2017.
The site, at the southeast corner of Sprague Avenue and Dartmouth Road, is at the end of the old mall property that has seen no activity in recent years and little buzz since the mall fell from grace, following the development of the interstate-fronting Spokane Valley Mall in the late 1990s. West of the mall site is a stretch of Sprague that, despite a gradually improving overall retail market in the Valley, remains riddled with vacancies. Public investment in a new City Hall, coupled with a proposed new Valley library across the street, could drive more traffic and spur more activity.
In addition to providing a potential kick start to a part of town that could use it, the envisioned City Hall site keeps the city’s operations close to its population base.
The bulk of new retail, office, and medical development is occurring along the Interstate 90 corridor, farther from most neighborhoods that lie at least a mile to the south of the highway. The city is doing its citizens a good service by staying closer to its neighborhoods—and by giving those citizens a more identifiable place to go for city services.
Also, with its citizens in mind, the city plans to build its City Hall without raising taxes. The city has about $6 million in cash on hand and plans to issue about $8 million in bonds to construct the building, which will have up to 50,000 square feet of floor space.
The city’s operations currently are located in multiple leased spaces in the Redwood Plaza complex, just under a mile east of the envisioned location. The city currently pays an annual lease approaching $435,000 for its space there. While it will have debt to service in its new space, it will be investing in an asset it owns, rather than paying rent, a far more fiscally sound move for a municipality.
The city of Spokane Valley had plans like this for a City Hall once before as part of a larger revitalization plan for the Sprague-Appleway corridor. That revitalization plan was scrapped after the land-use restrictions it included drew criticisms from landowners.
Voters elected a new slate of council members who scrapped the plan and did away with the controversy that came with it.
But the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, as it was called, had some merit, and one of its stronger points was the call of a city center, including a City Hall, at or near the old U-City mall. It’s good to see the city salvaging parts of that plan and putting them to good use now.
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