SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane city council is trying to find ways to better attract business and people to the downtown area. Councilor Amber Waldref recently proposed and passed two initiatives aimed at doing just that.
The first initiative is a pilot program that will help entrepreneurs who want to renovate old buildings in Downtown Spokane. The city will foot the bill, up to $40,000 to upgrade the water and sewer lines into the building.
Waldref says $250,000 has been set aside for the program. She adds it will give perspective buyers some relief on their bottom line and will pay for itself in the form of more tax revenue generated by the increase in people and business.
"We hope it will help small businesses like restaurants that want to go into spaces downtown, but go oh my gosh we have to upgrade these old pipes," Waldref said, "So we may not do it in downtown, they'll go somewhere else and do it."
The second initiative applies to the entire city of Spokane. People who want to renovate an old building and put apartments on the upper floors will no longer have to pay the residential sewer rate. Building owners would pay the much lower commercial rate.
Waldref says it's much cheaper for the city to build within than to keep expanding outward.
"It's a lot cheaper to deliver service to a building in downtown Spokane than it is on the outskirts of town," Waldref said. "We already have the infrastructure there, we're already pumping water to that area."
The goal of the two initiatives is to help make Spokane attractive and boost the occupancy rate downtown.