PFD to seek planner for south block
Agency involved in suits with owners regarding its efforts to buy land
Emily ProffittJune 26th, 2008
The Spokane Public Facilities District has decided to move ahead with plans to develop a master plan for the block south of its convention facilities, amidst controversy surrounding its attempts to acquire that land.
At the PFD board meeting last month, Executive Director Kevin Twohig suggested starting the master planning process, and the board decided to have him bring to a subsequent meeting a request for proposals from vendors who would be interested in doing such a plan, minutes posted on the agencys Web site say.
Twohig declined to comment on the matter for this story.
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 plans hinge, however, on acquiring the property. For years, the PFD, which already owns part of the block, has been trying to buy the rest of the land from the other owners there, including Seattle-based Diamond Parking Inc. and Spokane architect Glen Cloninger, who owns more than half of the block, partly with partners.
So far, the PFD and those property owners havent been able agree on a sales price. Last year, the PFD asked the Spokane City Council to condemn Cloningers land, and last winter the council authorized the citys legal staff to start eminent domain proceedings. In response, Cloninger and his companies sued the city for $10.2 million, contending that the citys threats to seize his property have prevented him from developing it or selling it at fair market value.
With its efforts now focused on that lawsuit, the city hasnt moved forward with its petition to condemn Cloningers land, says city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. Cloningers lawsuit against the city is in the information-gathering discovery phase, she says.
Regarding the PFDs decision to move forward with a master plan, Cloninger says he doesnt know enough about the matter to comment on it, but says that the PFD board must have good reasons to spend money to do that, although it makes one wonder why theyre doing a master plan at this time.
Earlier this year, the city filed a condemnation suit in Spokane County Superior Court against Diamond Parking to acquire that companys property on the south block. Feist says that lawsuit also is in the discovery phase, so court dates havent been set yet.
A representative at Diamond Parking couldnt be reached for comment.
The south block was one of two sites considered in 2003 for construction of the Group Health Exhibit Hall, which the PFD eventually decided to build at the northwest corner of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Division Street.
In 2004, the agency had Seattle-based LMN Architects PS outline the envisioned next phase of the convention center expansion on the south block. LMN said the south expansion program envisions 50,000 square feet of convention space, plus additional parking.
Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at email@example.com.