Document 70: Planning Expo'74

A. Jerry Keyser, Executive Vice President, Metrecon Division, Larry, Smith, and Company, Inc. to King Cole, 25 May 1971, King Cole Papers, Box I, Eastern Washington State Historical Society.

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One Maritime Plaza, San Francisco, Calif. 94111 (415) 981-3770

May 25, 1971

Mr. King Cole
Director of “Expo 74”
Spokane Unlimited, Inc.
“Expo 74”
405 Paulsen Building
Spokane, Washington 99201

Dear Mr. Cole:

This letter will serve to confirm the verbal agreement reached between us on the telephone yesterday regarding the scope of services that, upon our agreement yesterday, Larry Smith & Company, Inc. commenced undertaking for “Expo 74.” The purpose of our work is to establish on the basis of economic and appraisal considerations, the reuse values for certain acreage of land along the Spokane riverfront which are owned by three railroads with whom you are in discussion regarding the availability of their lands for the “Expo 74.”

Underlying our work program is our understanding that Spokane Unlimited set up a separate functioning organization entitled “Expo 74” for the purpose of promotion a world's fair as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Spokane in 1974. The site of “Expo 74” is along the Spokane riverfront in the downtown area. The site is, today, characterized largely by frequently obsolete railroad uses and many deteriorating buildings. The generally depressing environment, which has been present many years now, has prohibited an upgrading of economic activities in the area.

“Expo 74” will serve as a catalyst for implementing a riverfront revitalization plan by providing cleared tracts of land ready for public and semi-public uses. This in turn will provide a potential vehicle for adjacent lands to upgrade to higher density residential and commercial development.

The availability of significant areas of open ground close to the center of Spokane will represent a unique opportunity for the land owners and the city to proceed with major new development. The mixture of appropriate land uses for the area will be determined, in part, by the level of design and amenities provided, by the prestige generated within the area, and more importantly, by the market forces which now operate and will operate following the closing of “Expo 74.” To the extent that major new development becomes feasible by virtue of the land clearance and rentalization process made possible by “Expo '74,” it is evident that land value increases will occur. With recognition that land values will increase—but without a basis for judging how much—“Expo 74” and the railroads are now in discussion as to how to proceed.

Mr. King Cole
May 25, 1971

In order to achieve the goal of the “Expo 74” fair, the railroad properties must be available for development of the fair pavilions, parking, and other uses related to the fair. The three railroads involved are in general agreement with the plan and have agreed in principle to consolidate their traffic on a fourth route removed from the river. Also, they have already agreed on the transfer of considerable lands to “Expo 74.”

However, there are sizable acreages for which disposal has not been resolved. One approach that appears logical and advantageous to all parties is to have the railroads donate these acreages to “Expo 74” to be used in connection with the fair. In exchange for use of these acreages, “Expo 74” would undertake the expense of track removal, land clearance, site improvements, etc. Hence, after the fair ends, the railroads would have sites suitable for higher use development and, consequently, more valuable land. The foregoing approach is intended to give the railroads a financial incentive to donate certain land on the basis of the added value to the residual land for reuse development following the completion of “Expo 74” in comparison with the value under existing conditions.

Our assignment specifically is the determination of the reuse value for the land on an acreage basis given the best judgment that can be made at this time, without benefit of site planning and indepth market analysis. The indepth market analysis and site planning is a follow-up level of activity that we would recommend that all parties consider as a next step. But what is needed now and what we would be concentrating on at this time is an establishment of future values based on an analysis of all pertinent economic and appraisal information, most importantly, comparable sales for the various probable future uses for the land. Included would be analysis of commercial, industrial, and residential land transactions which would be analyzed and converted from raw data to an opinion of current and future values at the site in question. Although a detailed market study is premature in this initial effort at judging reuse values, some documentation of market absorption is necessary to substantiate future land values, which are dependent on sufficient market strength to justify development within specific time periods, and for the establishment of guidelines which will be helpful in consolidating interest for a riverfront plan concept and, specifically, the appropriateness of various private land uses within the project concept.

As agreed in our phone conversation yesterday, we will deliver a letter memorandum containing our opinion as to the reuse values of the sites in question on an acreage basis by June 15, 1971. A follow-up documentation

Mr. King Cole
May 25, 1971

appendix to the letter memorandum will be developed and submitted by June 30. The cost for the letter memorandum and support document containing the reuse appraisal estimates and supporting documentation is $5,000 plus reimbursable expenses.

As indicated in our telephone conversation, the above, we believe is what is needed to meet your immediate deadline in requirements in order that discussions with the railroads can proceed. However, we would also suggest that “Expo 74” and the railroads begin consideration of moving ahead with an indepth market analysis and site planning evaluation in order to expedite a total development program that in terms of uses and timing and ability to take advantage of the momentum established by “Expo 74” would have a maximum significant impact on the community and express an image for the total revitalization of the riverfront that would be in keeping with both the goals of the community and the specific opportunity of the land owners to increase the value of their land holdings. Following our completion of this more immediate assignment, we would be very pleased to meet with you and with the railroads if that is desired to discuss in more details the benefits that we believe would result both to the land owners and to the community in proceeding with these additional work items.

Thank you very much for your authorization to proceed with this assignment.



A. Jerry Keyser
Executive Vice President


Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest