Spokane Journal of Business

Diocese land slated to sell this week

93-acre vacant site west of I-90 said to be prime spot for commercial development

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane expects to choose a buyer this week for a sizable chunk of developable land it owns on the West Plains.

The nearly 93-acre site is located just west of Interstate 90 and directly south of Medical Lake Road, across I-90 from Fairways Travel Center and a retail center called Fairways Plaza that a company headed by Spokane builder Dick Vandervert is developing. The site is one of the assets the diocese is selling under its bankruptcy plan, says Michael Paukert, an attorney at Spokane-based Paine Hamblen Coffin Brooke & Miller LLP, which is representing the diocese in the bankruptcy.

Its developable land, and people who are looking to buy it are looking to develop it, Paukert says.

The land is vacant and lacks sewer and water connections, says Mike Matlat, vice president at Keen Realty LLC, of Great Neck, N.Y., which is marketing the property. Wetlands are on the property, which is zoned for regional commercial and light-industrial uses, Matlat says.

Pete Thompson, a real estate broker at Spokane-based Hawkins Edwards Inc., says that despite the lack of utility hookups and the environmental issues posed by the wetlands, the property still is a prime spot for development, because of its close proximity to I-90 and to new commercial developments nearby.

Its certainly a wonderful location, Thompson says.

The diocese, which has been trying to sell the property for the past year, received an initial offer of $1.3 million for it earlier this month, Paukert says. He declines to disclose the name of the bidder. Interested buyers must submit a qualified bid that exceeds $1.3 million by 5 p.m. today, Aug. 30. Paukert expects at least one more party to submit a bid before the deadline.

If the diocese receives at least one more qualified bid, an auction will be held via teleconference tomorrow, Aug. 31, at noon, and the property will go to the highest bidder, Paukert says. The sale still would have to be approved by a Seattle-area attorney appointed as trustee of the dioceses bankruptcy plan, he says. The diocese hopes to close on the sale by the end of next month, he says.

Meanwhile, the diocese also is seeking buyers for a roughly 20-acre site near its Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, at 6910 S. Ben Burr, on Spokanes South Hill, Matlat says. The land is vacant and zoned for rural traditional use, which includes large-lot residential uses, rural-oriented recreation, and resource-based industries such as ranching and farming. The diocese hasnt accepted any offers for the land yet, and will set a bid deadline and auction once it accepts an offer, says Matlat, who also is marketing that land.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2004 in the wake of claims totaling tens of millions of dollars filed by people who said that when they were children, they were victims of sex abuse by priests. The diocese is using the money from the sale of its assets to repay creditors in the bankruptcy.

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

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