by Leah Sottile and Pia K. Hansen

Re-neighboring Effort -- SPOKANE -- Knowing that downtown living could drastically improve the quality of life in Spokane, Northwest Regional Facilitators (NRF) will host a workshop on Friday with Robert Lupton, a community developer who has rejuvenated large portions of downtown Atlanta, Ga.

Once in a similar situation as Spokane, Atlanta had practically no downtown living -- but it did have its fair share of low-income housing. Lupton, then a budding businessman, moved his family into Atlanta's inner city with a commitment to rejuvenate downtown living in his city.

Through a variety of programs, Lupton has successfully redeveloped everything from multi-family housing to commercial properties through his organization, FCS Urban Ministries.

Brian Royer, business development manager for NRF, thinks that Lupton's "re-neighboring" development strategy is one that could work here in Spokane.

"[Re-neighboring is] basically convincing people with the means to move into the city," he says. "We want to add more people with a range of incomes to move downtown. When you finally get those people downtown, you have a neighborhood."

NRF is partnering up with Spokane Housing Authority, Wheatland Bank, area real estate developers and other non-profits to create an actual downtown neighborhood. Ideally, the neighborhood could consist of up to 50 units in a renovated or historical building with a commercial space on the main floor.

The workshop takes place Friday, Feb. 20, at 11:30 am at Gonzaga's COG in the Washington/California Room. Must preregister. Call 484-6733.

Licensing Problems -- SPOKANE -- The before- and after-school care program at East Central Community Center, which is operated by the city, may lose its state license.

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has found that a circumstance of "child abuse and neglect" is founded, following an incident when a kindergartner fell asleep and was left alone in a van for 42 minutes. This happened in September, and the city reported the incident to DSHS and placed the childcare worker responsible on administrative leave.

"Beyond this incident, DSHS has identified a number of licensing and compliance issues that must be addressed," said Mayor Jim West on Tuesday. "Children at the center are in no danger. We will conduct an internal investigation at the center, and we'll help parents find other care for their children if they so desire."

Currently, 60 children between five and 12 are being cared for at the center, which will stay open during the investigation.

West said the main cause for the potential revocation the program's license is the city's failure to follow the plan of action that was decided upon after the September incident.

The mayor has asked Brenda Zehm, a childcare specialist with the YMCA, to oversee the program at East Central Community Center while the city conducts an internal investigation and decides whether to appeal DSHS's decision.

Excell-ent Location -- SPOKANE -- The vacant Excell grocery store on the corner of Perry and Ninth may be very close to coming back to life after sitting vacant for three years.

"They are proposing a 10,000-square-foot market and convenience store, with some other neighborhood businesses like a dry cleaner or laundry, and there will be some gas pumps as part of it as well," says Tom Reese, economic development advisor with the city of Spokane. "Hopefully we can work with the developers with the design so it will reflect the historic neighborhood character." Reese has been involved in the ongoing revitalization of the Perry District.

The developer behind this proposal is John Tennany, who owns the Hi-Co Village stores. Further details about proposed market were not available prior to a presentation at the East Central Neighborhood Council meeting Tuesday evening.

"We have been trying really hard to get a grocery store as an anchor tenant. That's what the neighborhood really wants, but it hasn't worked out," says Reese. "At this point in time, the developer is really looking for some neighborhood input."

Neighbors are anxious to have "something" happen at the former Excell site.

"I expect the proposal to get support. We desperately need to have that open and gaining business," says Jerry Numbers, chair of the neighborhood council. "I think the businesses already on Perry will be supportive, too."

Publication date: 02/19/04

Spo-Candy Crawl @ River Park Square

Through Oct. 31, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • or