A design drawing of the Colville Tribal Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.

Spokane construction boom has driven up costs across region; tribe pursues new builder

KELLER – Construction is booming in Spokane.

Spokane County had $880.5 million in new construction in 2018, according to an article in the Spokesman-Review in January. This year, 2019, looks similar – especially as Amazon develops a 2.5 million square foot, $181 million warehouse on the West Plains.

But for Keller – and the Colville Tribes – that is bad news.

Colville Tribal Health and Human Services Direct Alison Ball said at the Omak District meeting, July 18, the Spokane boom has directly affected construction of the Colville Tribal Substance Use Treatment Center that had been planned to start in Keller this summer.

In March of this year as the tribes issued an advertisement for the project, tribal facilities manager Paul Tillman stated construction could start as soon as June, but now that construction start date has been moved back.

“We had a construction company that came in,” said Ball. “We had been in negotiations, but it drove the price up way too high. We had to go to the second bid. They have promised to come within [an acceptable] range.”

The planned construction will be approximately 30,000 square feet, which includes an administration building, a men’s dorm, a women’s dorm, a treatment facility and a service facility, according to Ball, who further noted construction costs also reflect construction of four recovery houses across the reservation.

Colville Tribal CFO Billy Nicholson reported the total cost of the construction of about $18 million, which includes finances for the first year of operation in the approximate amount of $1.8 million.

In June, CBC approved KeyBank to pursue up financing for the project, but not all of the costs will fall on the tribe.

Through the state budget, Washington has pledged to contribute $4.5 million to the project, and in special session, CBC approved a resolution accepting New Market Tax Credit Investment for the facility from US Bank. According to Nicholson, tax credits will contribute $3.5 million to the project.

Nicholson explained both sources of outside funds would go toward the $18 million loan.

Ball further noted a developed business plan “shows the business itself actually has the ability to bring in money.”

Ball noted the tribes are currently working with both MultiCare and the Empire Health Foundation on the project.

MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization that bills itself on their website as “the largest community-based, locally governed health system in the state of Washington.” MultiCare’s network includes eight hospitals across the state, including the MultiCare Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley.

Ball noted MutliCare “would come in and help do the technical care … or they could help do the recruitment, so we could get high quality staff in there.” Ball further noted MultiCare does “build, operate and transfer,” in which “they operate [the facility] for a period of time so they can recover the costs they’ve put into the process, and then they transfer it back over to the owner.”

She further noted, “It’s an idea, but it is something we will explore given we will have to have a lot of staff to recruit and retain.”

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