Army rejects local proposals in disposal of US Army Mann Center

Ben Stuckart, City Council President, 509.625.6255

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 1:52 p.m.

The US Army has had the Mann Center on its list for disposal since 2005. The US Army notified the City Council this week that all of the local proposals for redevelopment of the property have been rejected.

“The Local Development Authority (Spokane City Council) is furious and confused by the actions of the US Army,” said Council President Ben Stuckart. “Their failure to secure the property in the first place led to the School District pulling out.”

“Now, after 10 months of hard work by community members, City Staff and Council Members, the US Army has again let Hillyard and the applicants down. It is upsetting that all of this hard work was for nothing.” says Councilman Mike Fagan

Council Member Waldref stated, “The individuals we worked with at the Army were very responsive and led us to believe that the options we presented were within our authority. The Army's decision to change course means Hillyard will now have to wait and see if someone purchases the property through auction and puts it to good use.”

Historical Back Ground – What Happened

The Spokane School District was awarded the building and property after the original Local Redevelopment Process concluded in 2010. In February 2013, the City of Spokane was notified that the Spokane School Board was no longer interested in the transfer of the Mann Center and properties. The School District cited as the main reason extensive damage done to the buildings by vandals. This was caused by lack of security while it was still in the possession of the US Army.

Upon notification, the Spokane City Council, began working closely with the US Army and formed an internal committee comprised of members of City Council and the City's Asset Management Department. The City Council was determined by the US Army to be the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA). Numerous communications in writing with the US Army confirmed that various options existed. A presentation was provided to the City listing various options.

Once the US Army approved all documents, public outreach began. Numerous community forums, meetings and tours of the facility took place. The City Committee then solicited proposals after taking input from the public. After reviewing the proposals and scoring them a collaborative proposal came out on top. During this entire time the Spokane City Council paid for security for the property to stop the constant vandalism.

The US Army was informed of the LRA's decision and City Council waited to notify the parties until final approval was given. On August 20th Council President Stuckart was informed that the Army Corp, Office of Economic Adjustment, and the Army BRAC Office were all favorable to this solution. On September 16, the US Army completely reversed course and rejected all three proposals, stating that the only options that existed were that the City pay full market value for the property or the US Army would publically auction the property. When contacted by phone, the US Army representative explained that he could not really explain to us what happened when the approval went to the Under Secretary of the Army.

Community members spent hundreds of hours preparing proposals that would have resulted in positive economic, safety and community benefits. City staff and council members have spent hundreds of hours working with all the parties to ensure that all documents and processes we were following were according to policy.

Acceptable solutions (identified by DOD in February 2013, which now only the first two are acceptable, what changed?)

  • Give back to DOD – Will result in public auction
  • City buys property – Will pay full market value
  • Fed to Fed transfer
  • Economic Benefit Conveyance (Similar to Public Benefit Conveyance but job creation related)
  • Public Benefit Conveyance

These include: education, public health, parks, self-help housing, monument, correctional, law enforcement, emergency response, port, conservation, airport, highway, and power lines.