Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane-area building permit volume breaks record

Valuations top $1.1 billion; city sees biggest increase

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-—Samantha Peone
Garco Construction Inc., of Spokane, continues work on the $20.2 million Franklin Elementary School renovation and expansion on Spokane’s South Hill. The project was among the largest for which the city of Spokane issued a building permit last year.

Building permit values for Spokane County, the city of Spokane, and the city of Spokane Valley’s combined hit $1.13 billion in 2017, a record high, records indicate.

That’s greater than the previous record from 2013, which totaled $1.03 billion.

The city of Spokane saw the largest increase, to $515.7 million from $410.9 million, for a mammoth rise of 25.5 percent.

Of that 2017 total, new construction was valued at $312.4 million.

Gonzaga University’s $34.7 million Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center, at 211 E. Desmet, topped the largest projects for the city. The center will occupy 57,600 square feet and contain a 750-seat performance theater, a 150-seat recital hall, a two-story lobby with a box office, and a dedicated space for instruction and projects.

Runner up for largest project within the city was the $27.4 million Copper River Apartments, at 2865 W. Elliott Drive, in west Spokane. That project includes constructing 240 units of affordable family housing.

Next was the $26 million behavioral health hospital, which is rising at 104 W. Fifth, on Spokane’s lower South Hill. The three-story, 67,000-square-foot facility will include 100 patient beds, group therapy rooms, a gymnasium, two outdoor courtyards, a kitchen, and a dining room.

Other notable permits include the $20.2 million Franklin Elementary School renovation and addition, at 2627 E. 17th on the South Hill, and the $20 million M Building redevelopment, at 608 W. Main downtown.

Kris Becker, development services center director for the city of Spokane, says in addition to the rise in total valuation, the city has seen increases in projects with valuations of more than $1 million.

For 2018 expectations, she says, the city still sees strong permit activity surrounding single family and “medium-sized” commercial projects particularly. 

“We still have a lot of interest in our predevelopment meetings, and we’re still having people come to talk to us about doing projects, so I think, at least for the first of couple months, we’ll see the continued numbers as far as permitting goes,” she says.

To the east, the city of Spokane Valley saw about a 4.2 percent increase in total permit valuation, with a 2017 total of $273.5 million, compared with $262.5 million in 2016, city reports indicate.

Greg Baldwin, development services coordinator for the city of Spokane Valley, says that valuation includes industrial, education, medical, and single-family and multifamily residential projects.

Information provided by Baldwin lists a number of large projects within Spokane Valley.

That includes the foundation permits for the planned $35 million Katerra Inc. mass-timber product manufacturing plant. The facility will occupy 29 acres of a 52-acre site and will result in more than 150 construction jobs. Production is scheduled to start sometime this year, the Journal previously reported.

Avista Corp.’s construction of a new gas facility on 2406 N. Dollar Road has a total valuation of $21.7 million, making it another significant project in that city. The new service center will have a total of 88,000 square feet of floor space and include a wash bay and covered canopy for service vehicles. The space will allow more material and supply storage, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2019.

Baldwin says other large projects within Spokane Valley include the $16.1 million, 85,800-square-foot North Pines Middle School project, at 11900 E. Broadway, and the $12.8 million, 62,300-square-foot Riverbend Elementary School project, at 17720 E. Mission. 

Of the three municipalities, unincorporated Spokane County was the only one that saw a decrease in total permit valuation, with $336.5 million for 2017, or a drop of 3.6 percent compared with $349.2 million in 2016.

Although there was a drop, that figure is higher than both the 2014 and 2015 total volumes, which the Journal previously reported as $315 million and $226 million, respectively.

Randy Vissia, building director for Spokane County’s Building and Planning department, says notable projects for the county include the new Costco Wholesale Corp. structure. The $15.6 million retail warehouse, to be located at 12020 N. Newport Highway, will replace the current north Spokane Costco, which is within the city limits, 3.5 miles south of the project site.

That means the county will benefit from one of the Spokane-area’s largest single generators of sales tax revenue that the city currently receives.

Apartment complexes were also among significant projects within the county, says Vissia.

One multifamily project in development is the $7.9 million Dakota Flats Apartments at 514 E. Hastings. That project includes five three-story multifamily buildings with six to 12 living units each. The project was reported to include a 1,400-square-foot office and community building with mailboxes, a gathering area, and a kitchen. It also includes eight garage buildings with three to 10 stalls each.

Cheryl Stewart, executive director of the Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors, says 2017 was a “busy” year, despite the holdups with the state capital budget.

A number of school projects and other public works projects were delayed because of that, Stewart says, but the industry was still busy regardless, due to both the private- and public-sector projects that already had adequate funding.

The Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors has 300 members in Eastern Washington that represent the commercial construction industry.

Pertaining to the current trends here, she says the local construction industry “still sees a lot of work out there.”

“Everyone’s ramping up for another busy year,” Stewart says. “The main concern right now is just finding the workers to do it.”

Samantha Peone
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