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By Teresa Simpson
Whitman County gazette 

Palouse looks to the future to decide St. Elmo's direction

 

December 28, 2023



PALOUSE— The City of Palouse has $262,500 of state grants and a local match set aside to assess and study the St. Elmo building.

Grass roots group, Friends of St. Elmo, interested in preserving historic spaces in Palouse, worked with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to have the St. Elmo recognized in 2019 as one of Washington’s most endangered historic places, raising the building’s profile and strengthening its competitiveness for grant funding.

The City has received a $50,000 Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) planning grant to determine costs to stabilize the building and future economic development opportunities, requiring a $12,500 match.

Avista provided $5,000 of the matching funds, and anonymous donors and Friends of St. Elmo contributed more funds reducing the City’s contribution to about $4,000.

CERB contribution with the match coming to a total of $62,500.

The City has been awarded two state grants to help the community understand what options there are for St. Elmo’s future.

The City received The Washington State Department of Ecology Integrated planning Grant of $200,000 to support environmental assessment of brownfield properties.

The two grants, totaling $262,500, will support structural and environmental investigations, economic analysis, research into potential future funding and community outreach. The City has hired a consulting team with structural and environmental engineers, economists, and planners to implement the grants.

Approaching St. Elmo as a brownfield, or a property where redevelopment or reuse could be complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant, the city is able to apply for specific kinds of state and federal funding.

Older buildings like the St. Elmo can contain hazardous materials like lead and asbestos, and Palouse used the brownfield redevelopment process to address contamination at the former Palouse Producers site, which is currently TLC Animal Care and the Palouse Brewery.

The brownfield helped the city access state and federal grants, loans and technical assistance, to support the redevelopment of the former Palouse Producers.

The City’s consulting team will start its structural engineering assessment in early 2024, and will have several meetings and community meetings in the upcoming new year.

The feasibility studies have no predetermined outcome, decisions will be data driven, and the city will set up a Google form on the St. Elmo web page to share information going forward.

 

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