Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane Valley’s centerpiece

Building intended to bolster sense of identity for town

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-—Mike McLean
Building intended to bolster sense of identity for town

Government offices of the city of Spokane Valley will move into the new City Hall building in the former University City mall site by the end of next month, says Carolbelle Branch, a city spokeswoman.

Branch says city officials are hopeful the new home for the city government will provide a greater sense of identity for Spokane Valley citizens.

The building is in the final stage of construction, and Spokane Valley city staff plans to begin moving into the 66,200-square-foot building within a few weeks.

“Hopefully, we’ve created a place that’s great to visit and great to work in that’s energy efficient and will be around a long time,” Branch says.

The city government’s new address will be 10210 E. Sprague Ave. starting Sept. 15, Branch says. A community open house is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Meridian Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the $14.2 million project, and Architects West Inc., of Coeur d’Alene, designed it.

Branch says the project will be completed on time and nearly a quarter of a million dollars under the original budget of $14.4 million.

Other project costs include the $1.1 million the city paid to acquire 3.4 acres of land for the City Hall site in 2014.

The new building has three above-ground stories and a full basement.

The city’s most frequently accessed public services will be on the ground floor. 

The main information and reception area will be situated on the first floor near the main entrance, which is on the east side of the building. The permit center will be set up near the west entrance to the building.

The main entrance leads to an interior atrium that’s open to the top-floor ceiling.

“It creates a feeling of more space than there actually is,” Branch says.

The new council chambers on the main floor will be much larger than the current chamber, with a seating capacity of 296 people, including staff and council members. The occupancy limit in the current council chambers is 140.

A large conference room on the main floor can accommodate a community meeting, with smaller rooms for training and testing nearby.  

Public works and the information technology departments will occupy most of the second floor, and the city’s administration, finance, and legal departments will be on the third floor.

The basement will be used initially for storage.

In all, the building will have 11 conference and meeting rooms in which work groups can gather.

“We’ll be able to bring each other together so that we’ll think more holistically about everything we’re working on,” Branch says. “The current City Hall only has a few conference rooms, and they’re always full. We use hallways a lot.”

On the second floor of the new building, the IT department will have some much-needed elbow room, Branch says.

By comparison, IT personnel currently are based in a series of very small cubbies tucked away in a corner at the Redwood Plaza site, she says.

“They’re just cramped in their offices,” Branch says. “It will be nice for them to have space to keep supplies on hand.”

In addition to public works offices, the second floor will have a kitchen connected to a large meeting room that also will serve as a staff lunch room.

The mayor’s office and councilmember offices will be on the third floor, near the other administrative, finance, and legal offices.

The mayor’s office will have room for meetings with individuals and small groups. The councilmembers, who work part time, will be based in a cluster of cubicles in another room.

“I think the Council will have a little more room than they have now,” Branch says.

The building design didn’t target a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design rating, Branch says, adding, “But we tried to be as energy efficient as we could.”

Most lights in the new building are low-wattage LEDs. In many areas, motion-activated lights turn on automatically and shut off after registering a period of inactivity.

Open-grid overhangs on the windows minimize heat gain without compromising light.

The new building exterior is largely brick and masonry construction incorporating wood and iron features.

The appearance was guided by community input during the planning stages of the facility.

“They wanted a combination of something imposing but still fitting in with Spokane Valley,” Branch says. “They didn’t want it to be something that was radically different than who we are.”

One goal of the building design is to be welcoming to Valley citizens, Branch says, adding, “It’s their City Hall.”

The building is situated so the main entrance is angled slightly toward Sprague, making it highly visible to westbound traffic on the one-way section of Sprague.

“This provides a more welcoming approach,” Branch says. “You don’t have to really look hard to see it’s the City Hall.”

The Spokane Valley Arts Council has donated public art, including bronze sculptures “Coup Ponies” by Jerry McKeller and “Berry Picker” by the late Nancy McLaughlin, both near the main entrance.

The current Spokane Valley city headquarters occupies 30,000 square feet of leased space at in the Redwood Plaza, at 11707 E. Sprague, about a mile east of the new City Hall site.

Branch says the new City Hall project is being funded partly with $6.3 million the city had on hand, with the rest financed through bonds.

The annual bond payments for the new building will be about $35,000 less than recent annual lease payments of $434,000 at Redwood Plaza, she says.

“There’s a lot of natural light we can take advantage of,” Branch says. “If I’m in a place that has natural light, I won’t even turn on the light.” 

The building is designed to accommodate moderate staff growth for 50 or more years, Branch asserts.

“Our philosophy is small government,” she says. 

City Hall currently has 80 full-time employees.

The city’s police department will remain at its current base at 12710 E. Sprague.

Other departments that will remain separate from City Hall will be the city’s parks and recreation department, which is based at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center, at 2426 N. Discovery Place, and the public works maintenance shop, at Flora Road and Euclid Avenue.

City officials are hopeful that the new City Hall will encourage continued economic redevelopment along the Sprague Avenue corridor, Branch says.

“The U-City mall was the center of the Valley in general way before we incorporated,” she says. “A lot of people said this is the area that used to be like the heart of the city. For the City Hall to be here now at this site is in keeping with what people have thought for decades.”

J.C. Penney Co., a major anchor at the mall, closed its store just south of the new City Hall site in 1997.

The Frederick & Nelson department store, another former mall anchor just east of the J.C. Penney site, closed in 1992.

Spokane Valley incorporated as a city in 2003. The city’s population was 94,890 as of April 1, making it the 10th largest city by population in Washington, according to state Office of Financial Management estimates.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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