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Developers are planning Kendall Yards’ tallest building near the Monroe Street Bridge

Plans are taking shape for part of the long-vacant lot where Kendall Yards meets the Monroe Street Bridge.

Since construction began in 2009, Kendall Yards has become a bustling neighborhood full of homes and businesses near the heart of Spokane.

But there are still vacant lots to be developed – including a few riverside properties near the Monroe Street Bridge.

“They’re such visible properties,” said Jim Frank, CEO of Greenstone Corporation, which was behind Kendall Yards. “For us, it’s extremely important that we don’t make a mistake on them.”

Save for Wednesday nights when the gravel lot is filled with cars for the weekly street market, the roughly 5 acres on Summit Parkway west of Monroe Street have been unused for years. That may change soon .

According to plans submitted to the city, Greenstone is planning a six-story, mixed-use building for one of the properties that make up the strip of land.

It would be the tallest building in Kendall Yards.

“Whatever we do there, it has to last 100 to 150 years,” Frank said. “It needs to be done well for the city that is going to live with it for that long. It’s important for the Kendall Yards community and for Downtown Spokane.”

Called the Active Adult Apartments in plans, the development will span about 70,000 square feet, encompassing much of the 2-acre property at 1175 W. Summit Pkwy.

Its footprint would include a roughly 26,000-square-foot courtyard and two structures connected by a walkway.

“We want to build a little taller than when we started,” Frank said. “We began with one- and two-story buildings, then moving west as we approach Monroe, we wanted a more urban feel.”

Plans show the buildings’ first floor will consist of about 18,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and another 12,000 square feet of amenities for residents that live on the upper five floors.

From a studio to four bedrooms, the building will consist of 161 units. It will sit atop a 244-stall underground parking lot, plans show.

The project is still in its predevelopment process, which allows city building and safety officials to meet with developers and critique plans.

Frank declined to discuss specifics of the project due to its infancy.

“All I can say is that we are looking into the feasibility of the project,” he said. “There are complications that we are trying to get an understanding of.”

He said residential projects like the Active Adult building are hard to pencil out.

“We are committed to having diverse housing to provide a wide range of affordability, and it gets more complicated when you have that goal,” he said. “We’re not just building luxury housing here.”

Plans for the project resemble ones from 2017 Greenstone submitted for the property. After passing through the predevelopment processes, Greenstone officials did not take the next step to submit an official building application.

Then the coronavirus spread around the world.

“To be honest, planning for projects has been delayed a few years since COVID,” he said. “Inflation, interest rates and building costs – it made the investment environment very unreliable.

“You just have to wait for things to settle down.”

Steve MacDonald, director of community and economic development for the city, said he is familiar with the narrative.

“We’ve known for some time that a project like this has been planned in that area, but things have definitely changed since COVID,” MacDonald said. “We’ve heard it from other developers, too – the uncertainty feeds into delays of projects.”

MacDonald recognized it would be easier to make a project financially viable by building luxury residences. But he champions the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption ordinance because it incentivizes the development of housing priced lower than the market rate.

“We are seeing a lot of projects be successful using the MFTE program,” he said. “I am pleased that Jim is moving forward, because a mixed-use project is really what we want – we need activation for that corner.”

Greenstone has slowed progress on other projects, including the Garden District, a 25-acre development on Spokane’s South Hill. Frank said its first phase will be completed next year, with a 75-unit building and much of its arterials.

But the remaining undeveloped areas of Kendall Yards, much of them on the westernmost end past Nettleton Street, are far from being realized.

“We have significant land in that area yet to develop – probably as much as another 600-700 units,” he said. “It will probably be more than five years until that gets built out.”

Greenstone owns another three properties on the vacant strip near the Monroe Street Bridge, but no plans will be made public soon, according to Frank.

Premera Blue Cross, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, owns an adjacent property. The insurance company bought the land in December 2022 for $4.8 million, according to county records.

Officials for the medical insurer were reached Wednesday afternoon, but did not share information about the lot or any potential development before publication.

As for the six-story Active Adult structure, Frank said details should become clearer within the next 60 days.

“I suppose we would make a decision before the end of the year.”

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