Spokane Journal of Business

Goodrich cinches property

Plant is to be located near Medical Lake interchange

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The manufacturing plant that B.F. Goodrich says it plans to build on the West Plains to make carbon disks for airliner brakes appears destined for a site on the south side of Interstate 90 near the Medical Lake interchange.

The Richfield, Ohio-based company signed a purchase agreement earlier this week on a 27.5-acre parcel there. The property is located southeast across Westbow Road from a Super 8 Motel and a $2 million sales-and-service center built two years ago by Cummins Northwest Inc., a Renton, Wash.-based diesel engine dealer. The site is readily visible from I-90, although it sits back a short distance from the freeway.

Real estate agents and other business representatives familiar with the Medical Lake interchange area say theyre optimistic that the planned $66 million B.F. Goodrich plant will help spur more real estate development activity there.

We think its going to catalyze other interest in that area, says Pete Thompson, a commercial real estate agent with Spokanes Hawkins Edwards Inc., which is marketing nearby undeveloped land.

Frankly, weve been plowing that ground for a long time with not much action, he says, referring to a real estate market there that has remained soft despite the areas much-touted potential and comparatively low land prices.

Mike Taylor, president of Taylor Engineering Inc., vice chairman of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council board, and one of a number of people who helped recruit B.F. Goodrich, says, Its like a great anchor tenant.

The EDC has had a longtime regional strategy of trying to balance growth around Spokanes central business district, but the heaviest development activity in recent years has been on the citys North Side and in the Spokane Valley, Taylor says. The looming presence of B.J. Goodrich, a major company that plans to provide 250 solid family-wage jobs there by 2003, should help demonstrate to other companies looking for new building sites that the West Plains is an area worth considering, he says.

Jim Watson, an associate broker with Spokanes Kiemle & Hagood Co. who is representing the trust that is selling the land to B.F. Goodrich, says the manufacturing plants requirements for electricity and natural gas are going to bring added infrastructure to that area, which could help attractive other businesses.

The sparsely settled West Plains has been thought for years to be on the verge of large-scale development activity, due to such attributes as good freeway and airport access and minimal groundwater-contamination concerns, but has failed for the most part to live up to business forecasters predictions.

The Medical Lake interchange area, in particular, was the subject of considerable excitement several years ago after Spokane-based Broadway Group announced plans to develop a multimillion-dollar truck stop on a 20-acre site a short distance north of where the B.F. Goodrich plant is to be built. That project was expected to launch a flurry of other trucking-related development in the area.

The truck stop hasnt materialized, however, as Broadway Group has turned its attention to other properties it owns, and related spin-off development activity also has sputtered.

Watson says, however, that a number of other potential truck-stop developers now are looking at property in that same general area.

B.F. Goodrich Aerospace, the division that will build the plant, claims to be the worlds largest supplier of aircraft carbon brakes. The plant that is to be constructed here will make carbon disks that are used in the brakes. A Boeing 747-400, for example, uses nine disks in each of its 16 brakes, or 144 carbon disks in all. B.F. Goodrich currently produces carbon disks in plants at Pueblo, Colo., and Santa Fe Springs, Calif. The disks are assembled into brakes in B.F. Goodrichs plant at Troy, Ohio. The Spokane plant is expected to increase the companys production capacity by about 80 percent.

Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in September, and the plant is expected to begin operating by about next May. The plant reportedly will occupy only about 15 of the 27 acres bought by B.F. Goodrich, leaving plenty of room for future expansion.

Kim Crompton
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