Park & Re-creation: Greenstone looks to broaden scope at Meadowwood Technology Campus
In anticipation of tenant behavior changes, new plan would add housing, retail at big Liberty Lake office parkMay 5th, 2022
The city of Liberty Lake has approved a zoning change for the Meadowwood Technology Campus that will allow for new land uses, including increased residential and commercial uses, says Jim Frank, CEO of Greenstone Corp., a Liberty Lake-based real estate development company that owns the campus.
The changes will help the Meadowwood office park adapt to permanent remote-work trends and growing housing needs and community amenities, Frank says.
“It was very important to have a wider range of uses,” he says. “The original zoning on the campus—going all the way back to the Hewlett-Packard days—was light industrial. Before it was even the city of Liberty Lake, that was intended by Hewlett-Packard to be a manufacturing facility for technology products, and obviously that didn’t happen.”
Now classified as a community center mixed-use zone, the campus includes four office buildings with 450,000 square feet of office space on about 70 acres and is located at the northeast corner of Mission Avenue and Molter Road.
With the new designation, Frank says, “We have the ability to now get a broader range of retail, commercial, service, and residential uses, and that’s what our intent is, to broaden that range of services there and hopefully create an environment that’s more attractive for employees and better for the neighborhood.”
Frank says the change will enable Greenstone to pivot to meet evolving tenant needs in an employment market that calls for increased remote working and hybrid work schedules.
He says current tenants at Meadowwood could decide to downsize the space they currently occupy on campus or vacate the premises entirely in the future, since there’s a reduced need for office space.
“It’s just a reality that people aren’t necessarily going back into work anymore,” he says.
As the Journal reported earlier this year, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. shed more than 100,000 square feet of office space at the campus due to shifts in workforce needs.
“Employees have much more choice in where and how they work, and it caused us to reconsider the kind of community we want to create and how Meadowwood campus fits in with the rest of Liberty Lake,” Frank says.
Community center mixed-use zoning permits the development of schools and education training centers on site, as well as small restaurants and retail stores that can be integrated with residential units.
“Integrated mixed-use properties are the future of work,” Frank says.
The site has too much office space already, he says, and some spaces in existing buildings on campus will be redeveloped to have some office space and also accommodate new tenant needs.
In addition to the four office buildings, the campus has an onsite dining area, meeting spaces, parking, an outdoor amphitheater, and picnic pavilion.
“We’ve been developing it for the past 10 years as an office campus, but the changes that have been occurring in society and changes in the employment marketplace has caused us to rethink the project. We feel like the model of a single-use office park is probably something of the past and not the future.”
The property will take about 10 years to develop, and the next step will be to begin work on design plans at the campus, he adds.
Frank says the scope of residential development hasn’t yet been determined, but Spokane Valley-based Whipple Consulting Engineers Inc. produced a traffic analysis for the proposed zone change and based its findings on a 250,000-square-foot office development with 250 residential units at the property.
Public comments submitted to the city of Liberty Lake in response to the zone change request expressed concerns of increased traffic with the addition of residential use at the property. Additional concerns from the public expressed concern that the development could lead to increases in accidents and crime.
Frank says the new zoning will revitalize the neighborhood, adding, “It’s going to feel like the River District, with retail areas that will support workers on the campus, and support the neighborhood.”
He says mixed-use developments with a wide range of uses can be integrated on a fine scale at Meadowwood, which means the site likely will be much more successful going forward.
“We also see that there’s a place for mixed-use neighborhood-based services in that part of Liberty Lake because that quadrant, that I call the eastern side of Liberty Lake doesn’t have readily available services,” Frank says. “You basically have to go all the way down to Harvard Road before you start to get services like grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.”
He contends that creating walkable services in the eastern part of the city will benefit the Meadowwood Technology Campus and existing residential developments in the neighborhood alike.
With the technology campus close to existing residential development, Frank says continuing to develop the site for industrial uses didn’t make sense for the property.
“Ultimately there’s too much office space and not just in Meadowwood Technology park but also too much office space everywhere,” he says. “Being able to convert that to another use is beneficial.”
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