Post Falls Landing swap completed - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Post Falls Landing swap completed

Lender, new owner of city center site in talks with two developers

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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:00 am

POST FALLS - The new owner of the Post Falls Landing site has completed a land swap with the city of Post Falls, relieving the city of liability concerns after the deal was tied up for five years with the previous developer.

Meanwhile, Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Company, the Landing's lender that recently gained control of the multi-use city center site from developer Harry Green, is in talks with two developer/investors interested in acquiring the entire 33-acre project, said Allan Scharton, Liberty's vice president of mortgage loans.

"The majority of the interest is coming from parties who are familiar with the project," Scharton said.

Scharton declined to say who the developers are and whether they're from in state or out of state.

"Both have shown interest in the project long before the foreclosure was completed," Scharton said.

The Landing started 11 years ago along the Spokane River and Spokane Street near the Post Falls Dam. The site remains largely undeveloped, except for condos, a marina and infrastructure that was funded through the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency.

The property was touted as the city center's anchor early on and was even considered for the new Post Falls City Hall before the development became stagnant and ended up in a legal mess.

Dallas-based Liberty recently gained control of the site from Green at an auction after Green filed for bankruptcy two different times, but has said it's not interested in developing the property.

The total amount owed to Liberty on the project is $9.78 million.

"Therefore, the asking price would not be less than that number, but we haven't established the asking price yet," Scharton said.

Scharton said Liberty hasn't launched a marketing campaign on the Landing site and is waiting to see how the talks with the two developers progress before doing so.

"If talks with the current developers progress to a contract within the near future, Liberty would probably hold off on any marketing campaign," he said, adding that no offers have been made yet. "The door is still wide open for offers."

Mayor Clay Larkin said the city hopes whoever buys the project will develop it soon, not sit on it for several years before turning it over to someone else.

"The Landing site has real potential for the right mixed use and might just finally give us a downtown, which we have little of today," Larkin said.

Under the land swap with the city, Liberty received a quarter of an acre at the southeast end of the marina where gas tanks are located. The city acquired a similar-sized piece at the northwest section of the project on the shore across from the dam at the south end of Falls Park. No funds were exchanged.

City officials have said its new portion would make a great viewing and park area, but no formal plans have been announced.

"Liberty is happy to have the land that accommodates the gas tanks, which goes hand-in-hand with the marina," Scharton said. "When Liberty sells the project, including the marina, it would be important to be able to include the gas tank land in the transaction."

Shelly Enderud, city administrator, said the city is relieved to finally have the deal complete.

City officials said they were uncomfortable subsidizing private enterprise and were frustrated that a permit for the tanks on city property was issued because no one from the city signed off on putting tanks in there. The gas tanks were locked by the city all last summer while Green was the Landing's developer.

"The city had concerns with liability regarding the tanks," she said. "They did not belong to the city, but we felt if something were to occur, the city would be liable since we owned the land."

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