KXLY land grab at South Complex?

This conceptual site plan for the KXLY site at Regal and Palouse Highway on Spokane's South Hill was presented by KXLY representatives at a Land Committee meeting of the Parks Board.

This draft/conceptual site plan for the KXLY site at Regal and Palouse Highway on Spokane’s South Hill was presented by KXLY representatives at a Land Committee meeting of the Parks Board. Note the plan to build a large mixed-use facility on land currently owned by the Parks Department and relocate the soccer fields to the rear of a new big-box store. Please note that this document is in the public record.

Following up on a tweet from last week, The #spokanerising Project can now report that KXLY representatives are in discussions with the Parks Board for a land swap that could result in a significant change in the recreation and parks facilities offered in the Southgate District, as well as the second of three major big-box developments that have been planned for the area. Please note: these plans have not been submitted to the Planning and Development Office. They represent conceptual drawings for the site that were presented by KXLY at a Land Committee meeting of the Spokane Parks Board in December of 2013.

That meeting resulted in a Letter of Intent, specifying broadly that the Parks Department would enter into an agreement with KXLY to swap land in order to ensure shared access and potentially shared parking. Essentially, the City would agree to swap a piece of land in order to create a shared driveway where the current South Complex parking lot is located, and potentially including the entire east end of the complex, if KXLY chooses to build a mixed-use building. In exchange, KXLY would grant to the Parks Department replacement soccer fields on the west side of their proposed big-box development, near and underneath their AM radio transmitter tower on the site.

Note the big mixed-use building that would take up the majority of the east end of the current South Complex. This pad would be built on property currently deeded to the citizens of Spokane. Now, it’s certainly possible that the Parks Board and KXLY will choose to forgo the mixed-use building in its proposed location in order to avoid the costly and divisive land swap. In such a case, the entire South Complex, aside from the parking area, which would be removed in order to allow a four-way intersection at Palouse Highway and Regal, would continue to be used as soccer and baseball fields. An easement would be granted for the driveway/road into the property currently owned by KXLY, and parking would be shared between the two sites. Essentially, the development would progress without that large mixed-use building. (As long as the KXLY property is in compliance with the 2009 Developers’ Agreement, the CC1 overlay zone, and the Spokane Comprehensive Plan.)

But why put the mixed-use building on the South Complex in the first place? There’s plenty of space for development on the site that KXLY already owns, and urban-style mixed use condos would be a perfect use of that space. It would comply with the 2009 Developers’ Agreement for the site, the CC1 overlay zone implied therein, and the Spokane Comprehensive Plan, all of which call for a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development. Why build on Parks property when there’s plenty of development space for mixed-use within the site already owned by KXLY? It doesn’t make sense.

Regardless, before this project could proceed, the following would be required.

  • Any new construction on the current South Complex would require a Comprehensive Plan amendment.
  • Any land swap of this scale would require a city-wide vote of the people.

The next public vote for Parks-related issues will take place in November 2014, when the City will vote on the Riverfront Park Master Plan and an associated bond measure to fund its construction. Often, the Parks Board will slip “riders” into the approval of bonds, as they did in 2007 when the Pools Bond passed with flying colors. The #spokanerising Project speculates and fears that the approval of this land swap will be attached to the 2014 Parks Bond. This would mean that a vote to approve the construction of the Riverfront Park Master Plan would also be a vote to approve the swapping of half of the South Complex to KXLY in exchange for a deficient (that is, unequal) parcel (because the KXLY-AM tower would remain, with guy wires and all, on the site).

That wouldn’t be fair. If the land swap is at issue in November, a vote for one should not automatically be a vote for the other. The public deserves to voice support or opposition to each issue separately. We urge you to get involved by contacting the Southgate Neighborhood Council, KXLY, and the Spokane Parks Board.

We’ll be covering this issue more in-depth next week. Stay tuned as the story develops.

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