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The Dirt: Buildings’ demolition clears way for Larry H. Miller dealership parking lots

September 23, 2018

More than two full city blocks in the city core are being remade for the creation of parking lots for a large downtown auto dealership, according to permits issued by the city.

The work follows the demolition of the few existing structures on the land, some of which were historic buildings tied to the city’s storied “auto row.” Currently, pavement on the lots has been pulled up and earthmovers are present.

The show and inventory lots for the Larry H. Miller auto campus line the south side of West Third Avenue and stretch between Monroe Street and just west of Jefferson Avenue. Seven parcels of property underlie the project’s footprint. The work is valued at $800,000, according to the permits.

Drawings of the work submitted to the city show the lots vacant of structures but surrounded by landscaping and 60 new trees. Existing driveways will be maintained.

Work on the large dealership campus has been in the making for years and has transformed over that time in response to contentious dealings with city officials.

In 2013, the Larry H. Miller company originally called for a much larger campus and permanent closure of multiple city streets. The plan for a six-block campus with tree-lined pedestrian boulevards in place of public streets was shrunk following pushback from some neighboring business owners and elected officials. A section of Madison was blocked by a Quonset hut-like structure for five years until the street reopened in July.

Two historic buildings eligible for protection, at 1023 and 1027 W. Third Ave., were demolished earlier this year to make way for the parking lots. To get permission from the city to remove the buildings, the auto dealer agreed to renovate the International Harvester Co. truck showroom, which was built in 1929 at 1030 W. Third Ave. and now serves as a Lexus showroom.

Such a compromise would no longer be allowed under city law, following the February passage of a historic property preservation ordinance. Before that bill’s approval, developers could take down historic buildings if they renovated an adjoining historic building. Now, the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission can block the removal of an old building.

Miller Family Real Estate, based in Salt Lake City, is the project’s owner. No contractor is listed, but the architect is John Mahoney Architect, of Tempe, Arizona.

Spokane area housing projects receive funding from state

Two projects in Spokane were part of a $9.9 million grant and loan program announced Thursday by the Washington state’s Department of Commerce.

The Hifumi En apartments, near the South Perry District, has 41 apartments reserved for people age 62 and older, as well as disabled individuals who have very low or extremely low income. The complex was purchased and first made into affordable housing for first-, second- and third-generation Japanese people in Spokane in the 1960s with money raised by Spokane’s Japanese community and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds. It is now owned and operated by the Spokane Housing Authority and no longer serves the Japanese community primarily. It received $171,000.

The Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners received nearly $430,000 for its Riverwalk Point I apartment complex just east of the Hillyard neighborhood outside of city limits on the Spokane River. The 53 units are reserved for the recently homeless, families with children and low-income people.

The new funds, which come from the state’s Housing Trust Fund, will go to 23 projects across the state, and preserve 1,179 multifamily rental and shelter units. Nearly 800 of those will be occupied by households earning 30 percent or less of the area median income.

According to the state Commerce Department, the estimated total cost to complete such preservation work exceeds $64 million, and the state estimated that each dollar it invests will leverage more than $5 in additional funding from other private, public, nonprofit and community organizations.

Recreational cannabis operation planned for Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood

Developers of a large recreational cannabis facility are seeking permission to build a 9,500-square-foot plant in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood a couple of blocks from a future interchange with the north-south freeway, according to documents filed with the city.

Called the Cashmere Grow Facility, the $400,000 project at 3807 E. Olympic Ave. would house a cannabis-grow facility and include space for harvesting, packaging and offices. A second phase of the project would build a stand-alone “extraction” center, which would produce derivatives of the product.

The property, which is vacant, was purchased in November 2017 for $179,000 by Cashmere Holdings LLC, according to county property records. The land and project owner is listed as Mehran Khosravi.

Cody Dompier, Dompier Architecture in Spokane, is listed as the project’s contact.

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