Long-vacant lot in downtown Palouse now ready for new life after cleanup

This illustration shows what a new building on the vacant 335 E. Main St. property in Palouse could look like.

A space in the middle of Palouse's downtown that has sat vacant for years is finally for sale and the city is asking for offers.

The half-acre property on 335 E. Main Street that was once the site of a gas station and blacksmith shop has stayed empty while the city worked to clean up the hazardous substances left behind.

City Administrator Kyle Dixon said grants from the Department of Ecology have helped fund their efforts in hiring engineers for the cleanup and testing of the brownfield site for the past five or six years. He said the DOE has now given the city the OK to let a developer take over the property.

Dixon said the city will continue to be responsible for testing the site once a year, but it hopes someone will take advantage of the opportunity to add a new building to the makeup of downtown.

"Anybody that's interested in developing that site is going to add to the diversity of downtown," he said.

While there have not been any applications submitted, Dixon said he has heard from people interested in the property.

He said a committee will review any submissions the city receives. A 2009-10 city public planning effort called the Palouse Brownfield Integrated Cleanup & Redevelopment Plan identified objectives for the future use of the property, such as contributing economically to the community, complementing the existing downtown buildings and increasing the number and diversity of local businesses.

Dixon said the committee's decision will not just be based on who is willing to pay the most for the land, but will be based on those other factors as well.

The city suggested the property could be used for retail, as an office space, a cottage craft industry, housing for visitors, tourists and senior living, or as a mixed-use building.

Dixon said when the city sought feedback from the public, it appeared that a mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and apartments on the second floor seemed to get the most traction.

"We want to put this piece of property in hands that are capable of building this out," he said.

Dixon said the city will work this summer to beautify the nearby south bank of the Palouse River that should make the property more attractive for developers.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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