The Spokane City Council will consider two incentive programs proposed by Councilwoman Amber Waldref that would assist in redevelopment of vacant and historic commercial properties.
In one incentive, the city would provide up to $40,000 to improve water and sewer lines for qualifying redevelopment projects in the downtown core.
In the other incentive, the city would provide water and sewer services at commercial rates for residential units in commercial buildings converted to mixed-use developments downtown and in the city’s designated centers and corridors areas, providing substantial savings for developers of qualifying projects.
The City Council is scheduled to consider the program proposals on Sept. 15, Waldref says.
Mark Richard, president of Downtown Spokane Partnership, says there’s broad support for the incentives.
“We’ve seen infill development and use of historic buildings become more challenging and expensive,” Richard says.
Developers and business owners working with downtown properties often are required to upgrade utilities, including fire-suppression systems.
“This tool will help offset expenses,” Richard says.
He also says the commercial-rate utilities incentives would help some infill and historic-rehabilitation projects pencil out.
“Offsetting those costs for tenants and property owners is critical to meet the market and compete with housing development in suburban areas where it might be easier and less expensive to develop,” he says.
Waldref says the program would be tracked over the course of five years to ensure that the redevelopment generates more revenue than the incentives cost the city.
“When a building that has been empty comes on line, it can bring in $4,000 to $8,000 a year in utility revenue,” she says.
If approved, the City Council would be updated on the status of the fund at least twice a year, and the fund would sunset after five years unless it’s renewed through a future City Council action.
The commercial-rate utility incentives program, which originally was sponsored by former Councilman Steve Salvatori, also would sunset after five years, although commercial rates would remain in effect afterward for the projects that qualify for them while the program is active, Waldref says.
The commercial rate would be available for redevelopment of legacy commercial buildings throughout the city, such as along Monroe and Market streets, she says.
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