Spokane Journal of Business

Cloninger nixes offer to arbitrate

PFD says ‘south block’ property owner rebuffed its settlement efforts

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Spokane architect and downtown property owner Glen Cloninger has declined to arbitrate with the Spokane Public Facilities District over the districts desire to acquire the block south of the Spokane Convention Center, says PFD Executive Director Kevin Twohig.

Twohig says Cloninger recently sent a letter to the agency saying that he wouldnt sign an arbitration agreement. Cloninger declines for now to comment on the arbitration issue.

At a PFD board meeting last month, board member Mick McDowell moved to authorize the agencys staff to sign and approve a memo of understanding with Cloninger, and to direct staff members to draft an arbitration agreement for the parties to sign, minutes posted on the agencys Web site say. Board member Larry Soehren seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

The PFD has said that it wants to expand its convention facilities on the land, which is known as the south block and is bounded by Spokane Falls Boulevard, Main Avenue, and Washington and Bernard streets. Its plan hinges on acquiring the property. The agency already owns part of the block and for years has been trying to buy the rest of the land from the other owners there, including Seattle-based Diamond Parking Inc. and Cloninger, who owns more than half of the block, partly with partners.

Thus far, the PFD and those property owners havent been able to agree on a sales price. Last year, the PFD asked the Spokane City Council to condemn Cloningers land, and the council later authorized the citys legal staff to start eminent domain proceedings. Cloninger and his companies then sued the city for $10.2 million, contending that the citys threats have prevented him from developing the property or selling it at fair market value.

Twohig says that the PFD will continue to try to reach an agreement with Cloninger, and that court proceedings likely wont start until next year at the earliest.

The city earlier this year filed a condemnation suit in Spokane County Superior Court against Diamond Parking to acquire that companys property on the south block. Twohig says a hearing on that matter is expected to be held before the end of this month, and that the agency is continuing to try to negotiate with Diamond Parking.

At the PFD board meeting in May, Twohig suggested starting the master planning process for the south block, and the board decided to have him bring to a subsequent meeting a request for proposals from vendors who would be interested in developing such a plan. Twohig says the agency plans to issue an RFP sometime this fall.

Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at emilyp@spokanejournal.com.

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