Rezone could boost Post Falls City Center

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Post Falls’ long-range vision for a City Center district will gain momentum Tuesday night if the City Council approves a zone change request by a lumber manufacturing firm on East Fourth Street.

Idaho Veneer Co. is seeking a rezone from Industrial to Urban Center on just over 20 acres west of Idaho Road.

“It’s a step in the direction of our evolving City Center planning area,” Post Falls planning manager Jon Manley said.

If approved, the zone change would allow for mixed-use commercial and residential “urban type” development in the city’s core off Spokane Street near the Spokane River, Manley said.

“They (Idaho Veneer) want a zone that is complementary to our City Center plan,” he said. “The urban center zone allows for the flexibility needed in an urban setting and highest and best use of the property.”

Idaho Veneer President John Malloy said the company doesn’t have any firm plans should the zone change be approved.

“We’ve been told for years that we’re not using the property to the highest and best use,” he said. “What we do if the request is approved depends on the market.”

A mixed-use zone would likely result in the closure of Idaho Veneer, a fixture at that site for 66 years. The manufacturer currently employs about 30 people, Malloy said.

Manley said an industrial zone is not compatible with commercial uses that investors are seeking.

“It’s not showing up on the radar of people looking for commercial development,” he said. “No one does a search for industrial property.”

For years, Post Falls has struggled to define a downtown core, the planner said.

“Right now, we have a corridor, Seltice Way, that is nine miles long. But it’s not an identifiable downtown. We need to have a central gathering place to call downtown.”

In 2005, the Post Falls City Council adopted a City Center plan defined as “a comprehensive revitalization strategy for the historic center of Post Falls.”

The plan considers a full range of community development issues including transportation, character and identity, economic reinvestment, business vitality, and other topics.

City officials said the plan was developed as a blueprint for future projects backed by the city, its urban renewal agency and other “community and civic agencies working to improve Post Falls.”

The council will consider Idaho Veneer’s request during its regular meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 408 N. Spokane St.

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