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Former Heroes and Legends will reopen, kind of under new management

A former owner of downtown Spokane sports bar Heroes and Legends is reopening a new bar in the same location, at 830 W. Riverside Ave.

The new business is called 24 Taps and will be a food-and-beverage sports bar, said owner and Spokane CPA Tom Griffiths.

Griffiths had partnered in Heroes and Legends with Spokane businessman Vern Hare. The business closed earlier this year.

Griffiths will be the sole owner of 24 Taps, he said, while the two men are co-owners of the building.

Griffiths said he will open 24 Taps no later than Aug. 23 — the national telecast of the football season opener for Eastern Washington University.

The bar’s food will be “stadium food,” he said, including burgers, sandwiches, nachos and light fare.

Beverage choices will include 13 craft beers made by local breweries, plus a steady supply of other regional beers.

For sports fans, 24 Taps will have 14 75-inch high-definition screens. The business will operate seven days a week.

Spokane’s Rainmaker Creative adding a Silicon Valley office

Spokane marketing and design firm Rainmaker Creative is opening an office in Silicon Valley.


Company co-owner Billie Gaura said the firm’s Cupertino, California, office will open in September, starting with two employees.
  

It will be an extension of the main office in Spokane, at 107 S. Cedar Ave. Started eight years ago, Rainmaker has 11 employees.
  

The California office will provide a location for Silicon Valley clients to meet directly with Rainmaker’s team, Gaura said.
  

The company's target customers are small businesses with five to 15 employees, Gaura said.

 

Alexis Roizen, Rainmaker’s creative director, will lead the new office.  For the first several months Gaura will work at both offices.

Umpqua Bank starts wildfire fund to help provide short-term loans

Umpqua Bank, which recently merged with Sterling Financial, has started a Wildfire Relief Lending Program to help customers in parts of Washington and Oregon hit hard by wildfires.

The new fund allows Umpqua customers who reside in area under voluntary or mandatory evacuation to receive rapid access to personal loans up to $2,500. The loans will help customers take care of immediate needs including short-term living expenses, generators for power and other immediate needs. Loan approvals are subject minimum credit requirements.

“Communities throughout the Umpqua footprint are currently facing one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history and we wanted to do something to help,” said Ray Davis, Umpqua Bank president and CEO. “We realize that customers in Brewster and the surrounding areas have been deeply affected by the Carlton Complex fire, with some forced to evacuate with virtually no notice, and many customers in Burns, Oregon, have been seriously impacted. We’ve created this emergency lending program to provide quick, low-cost access to funds to support customers’ immediate needs.”

 

 

Red Lion waited for the right time to unload its Bellevue hotel

Today's interesting Spokane business story is the plan by Red Lion Hotels to sell its Bellevue property. It sits conveniently near the Bellevue city core and right next to busy I-405. It will fetch top-dollar because of Seattle area property values.

Down at the bottom is one nugget. In recent years some unhappy RLH investors have been pushing the company to sell the building.

Two years ago, the clamor was supported by predictions the building then would have sold for more than $20 million.

With a new CEO at the helm, the company has agreed to move forward with a sale. And the market is certainly better than it was two years ago — for sellers.

The likely price tag, according to one unidentified specialist, will be somewhere above $45 million.

 

 

No plans yet to remove the city’s original skywalk connected to Ridpath

Jack Heath, president and COO of Washington Trust Bank, said the bank has not decided what happens with the skybridge that connects the defunct hotel to the annex, which the bank recently bought for $2.6 million. Story on the sale was published on Tuesday this week.

The skywalk was the very first built in Spokane, approved by the city in agreements with Ridpath owners in 1961; it was finished in 1963 and allowed Ridpath guests at either the hotel or its motor inn to cross over First Avenue.

Under the conditions imposed by the city, the Ridpath was only provided a license for the space over the street (something akin to an easement). The city retains the right to revoke the license.

Heath and the bank could ask and request the city to revoke the license, allowing for the skybridge to be taken down.

Back in 1963, here’s what the skywalk from the Ridpath to the annex looked like

Yep, back in the first half of this decade, people had some grand plans for downtown Spokane. One was the proposed transformation of the Ridpath Annex (aka the Executive Court) into shiny condos. It was supposed to transform that area of town, until the recession sent it reeling, along with dozens of other efforts and grand plans.

Today's SR story catches up with the building, and the plans by its new owner, Washington Trust Bank.

In case you want some history, here's a photo from the Review archives, which showed how the skybridge looked, from the perspective of the Ridpath Hotel. At this angle, you get to see a bit of the recently completed annex. The skybridge is described in older stories of the Review as the first in town. It  was completed the week the photo was taken, March 8, 1963.

At that time, the annex was officially known as the Ridpath Motor Inn, and it was described than as a 77-unit motel.

 

Associated Painters finishes work on second hangar at Spokane airport

Painting airliners is an expanding business at Spokane-based Associated Painters.

The company, which has been at Spokane International Airport for four years, has just completed work on its second painting hangar.

It's the left building in the photo above.

The expansion will allow the Spokane workforce to grow to 110 employees by next summer, up from 70 today.

 The 32,000-square-foot hangar cost roughly $6 million to build. It has one large bay capable of handling a Boeing 757-300 sized aircraft or similar narrow-body planes.

 Associated Painters owns the building and has a 30-year land lease with Spokane airports. It should reach full capacity within two years, a company news release said.

Pullman’s Ed Schweitzer sounds off against the federal Ex-Im bank idea

I'm not much surprised to learn that Ed Schweitzer, founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Labs in Pullman, doesn't like the idea of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im).

The issue of late has become a contest between some conservative lawmakers who see the program, which offers insurance to protect American companies doing overseas business, as outdated and unneeded, and others who say the program is useful and beneficial to the economy.

Schweitzer is a true conservative and has a valid concern about Ex-Im. He expressed those concerns, succinctly, in a recent letter to the editor of The Spokesman-Review.

To read the SR's blog Spin Control summary of the Schweitzer position on Ex-Im, here's your link.

 

Want to hear how Edwall attracted a growing tech firm? Ask Andrew DePaula

Greater Spokane Incorporated's Thursday (July 17) Executive Connect Breakfast features innovator Andrew DePaula, the guy behind the amazing little tech firm IntelliPaper, based in Edwall, Washington.

The event is 7 a.m.-9 a.m., more or less, in the Spokane Club's downstairs meeting area.  Admission is $30. Here's the story the SR did in February about the nifty little company DePaula runs, Intellipaper.

To reserve a ticket, use the GSI link.

 

That big tower on Spokane’s South Hill is Rockwood’s Summit taking shape

Not all the construction activity is happening in the Valley or near the convention center downtown.

Rockwood Retirement Communities, which runs Rockwood Tower and other area living centers, is at work on its big expansion on Spokane's South Hill.

This is the work continuing at the Rockwood campus, where the work crews are building a 10-story, 93-unit apartment tower, called The Summit.

It's expected to be open and accepting residents in early 2016.

Photo courtesy of Alan Curryer.

Sportman’s Warehouse coming back to town, opening next year


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Sportsman’s Warehouse, the Utah-based national outdoor recreation and sporting goods chain, will open a north Spokane store next spring, moving into the vacant building at 6720 N. Division St.

It’s leasing and renovating a 35,000-square-foot retail building near the corner of Lyons and Division.

Sportsman’s Warehouse is leasing from the commercial real estate operation of developer Harlan Douglass.

The store will operate seven days a week with roughly 50 employees, said company spokeswoman Karen Seaman.

The retailer expects to offer roughly 75,000 products.

Rebooked, the idea that won the last Startup Weekend, is moving forward

Edited 9:33 a.m. July 8 to reflect the correct name of the business. Rebooked, not Rebook.

We wanted to call a little attention to Rebooked, a Spokane start-up that includes on its team Dan Gayle, a Spokesman-Review web developer.

Dan took part during April's Startup Weekend Spokane, and that team won best of show for their idea for a notification startup called Rebooked.

The idea behind Rebooked is a notification system for businesses who face customer cancellations. Using notifications, companies can convert the cancelled appointments into customer appointments. The potential market includes health care service providers, salons and eventually restaurants.

 

The Ridpath Annex was once a great downtown swimming hole

Earlier this week The SR ran a quick story updating circumstances at the vacant, derelict Otis Hotel.

It's almost like we're hunting for stories about downtown buildings that have fallen into decay. Last week's story, on hopes to resurrect the empty Ridpath Hotel, at least offers rays of hope that a developer can build apartments in the Ridpath.

The developer, Ron Wells, is only tackling the problem of rehabbing the Ridpath Tower, converting it into micro- and standard-size apartments.

A different owner, a Spokane businessman, owns the nearby Ridpath Annex, on the southeast corner of the block that also includes the Ridpath. That building, once the home of Spokane's YMCA, is not immediately facing redevelopment. Rumors persist that the owner has a buyer, but OfficeHours hasn't confirmed that.

This historic photo, from the famed Libby Photo archive, shows swimmers enjoying the pool inside the old YWCA building. It appears to be from 1919, taken during a women-only swim session.

Check out the diver on the pedestal in back right side of the image.

Here's some background on the building history, from a local history book:

The annex is an older historic building that is part of the Ridpath complex. The annex was originally built as the St. Nicholas Hotel, and it was later used by the YWCA. After the Ridpath tower was built in 1952, the two buildings were combined into a single facility. The annex houses 44 larger apartments and street-level live-work space. It connects directly to the tower, allowing residents of both buildings to easily share common amenities. The building will feature a restored tiled swimming pool that was once part of the St. Nicholas Hotel’s “fine turkish bath”.

Umpqua Bank to close 27 branches in the West, none in Spokane

None of Sterling Bank’s nine area branches will be closed during a round of reductions now taking place as Umpqua Bank begins aligning operations in the wake of its takeover of Sterling.

Bank officers are closing 27 branches across Washington, Oregon and California during the next several months. Those closures – including 13 branches in Washington along with seven each in Oregon and California – are occurring where both Umpqua and Sterling had branches within a few miles of each other, said company spokeswoman Eve Callahan.

Umpqua finished its purchase of Sterling two months ago in a $2 billion stock deal. The nearest Sterling closures to Spokane will be two Tri-Cities branches and one in Clarkston, Callahan said.

The two closed Tri-Cities Sterling branches were located inside Wal-Marts, she said.

In some cases the closed branch was an Umpqua operation, and in others it was a Sterling branch, she said.

In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, two branches were within 500 feet, she said. In that case, an Umpqua branch will be folded into the nearby Sterling branch.

The exact number of jobs lost has not yet been settled, Callahan said. No more branch closures are anticipated during 2014, she said.

No Spokane branches of Sterling Bank will close, says Umpqua

None of Sterling Bank’s nine area branches will be closed during a round of reductions now taking place as Umpqua Bank begins aligning operations in the wake of its takeover of Sterling.

Bank officers are closing 27 branches across Washington, Oregon and California during the next several months. Those closures – including 13 branches in Washington along with seven each in Oregon and California – are occurring where both Umpqua and Sterling had branches within a few miles of each other, said company spokeswoman Eve Callahan.

Umpqua finished its purchase of Sterling two months ago in a $2 billion stock deal. The nearest Sterling closures to Spokane will be two Tri-Cities branches and one in Clarkston, Callahan said.

The two closed Tri-Cities Sterling branches were located inside Wal-Marts, she said.

In some cases the closed branch was an Umpqua operation, and in others it was a Sterling branch, she said.

In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, two branches were within 500 feet, she said. In that case, an Umpqua branch will be folded into the nearby Sterling branch.

The exact number of jobs lost has not yet been settled, Callahan said. No more branch closures are anticipated during 2014, she said.

 

Business trivia question: when was the first commercial LP album released?

This item might normally show up in Paul Turner's Slice column. Since he may have missed it, OfficeHours will offer it up for quick consumption.

The first long play (LP) vinyl record was introduced by Columbia Records on June 21, 1948. Up to then, all commercially sold vinyl was played at 78 revolutions per minute.

Columbia got there first by using a team of engineers who evolved the 78-rpm record into its still-viable 33-1/3 rpm version. By doing that, they extended a disk playback time to more than 20 minutes per side, and shrank vinyl grooves to an accessible millimeter size.

The June 18, 1948 Wall Street Journal announced the advent of the new LP. It cited sources from the Chicago-based Magnavox Co. who were quoted saying Magnavox was preparing to introduce a two-speed player that year. It would add $25 to the cost of its standard players to have that dual option.

For once, a company spokesman made a comment that resounded accurately and prophetically. In the WSJ article a Magnavox exec said the new LP will be  “a huge turning point” in the recorded music industry. Got that right.

The idea of long-play vinyl wasn't totally new. Back in the 1930s, RCA Victor introduced the first commercially available LP turntable-player. It never went into production due to the impact of the Great Depression.

New president to head HollisterStier’s contract manufacturing section

Bill Simmons, a 30-year veteran in the pharmaceutical industry, has been named president of Spokane’s Jubilant HollisterStier contract manufacturing operation.

The company announced his appointment last week. He takes over from former CEO Marcelo Morales, who has left the company.

Simmons, 57, has had several management positions, including executive vice president at Mayne Pharma LTD, and general manager of Baxter International’s oncology and multisource injectable business, according to Jubilant HollisterStier.

Most recently, Simmons was managing partner at CSN USA LLC, a New Jersey-based consulting firm. It primarily worked with private equity investors considering investments with biotech firms.

In late 2013 the Federal Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Jubilant HollisterStier, saying its inspectors identified several concerns over quality control in the contract manufacturing area of the north Spokane site.

It referred in the letter to unexplained levels of impurities in some orders being filled for a pharmaceutical customer. Another concern was allegedly inadequate processes to ensure material sterility.

The federal agency continues to work with company officials to resolve those concerns. Tara Goodin, an FDA spokeswoman, said by email: “Because this is an open investigation, our policies prohibit us from discussing what has happened and what will happen specific to this facility.”

Shannon Jordan, a Jubilant HollisterStier spokeswoman, emailed the company’s position: “We have responded to the FDA and are actively working toward making continuous improvements to our site.”

Starbucks will start offering wireless phone-charging in its stores

Found this on NW tech blog TakesonTech:

Starbucks is preparing to offer wireless phone-charging stations at its coffee shops. But don't get too excited; it won't start happening until next year for most stores in this area.

Starbucks has been testing the technology across the Bay Area and parts of Boston. The initial rollout is occurring in Boston.

Starbucks is working with Powermat and Duracell, which use the inductive charging standard developed by the Power Matters Alliance. Some phones in the market use the PMA standard for charging, but many do not. Powermat and Duracell make a wide array of sleeves and other accessories for devices that don’t support wireless charging on their own.

Powermat will provide the backend technology needed for Starbucks to build the wireless charging stations into its stores, as well as tools to help customers figure out if their phones are compatible or not.

Starbucks estimates it will add about a dozen wireless charging stations to each of its 7,500 locations in the U.S. Many of the deployments won’t take place until 2015.

Right now, the tech works with a limited number of smartphones. Owners of other devices will have to have a special case, costing about $20 to $30, in order to work with the wireless charging system.

Goodwill Industries takes over former Gift Card shop near Lincoln Heights

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest has chosen Spokane’s South Hill near Lincoln Heights Shopping Center to open its fifth retail store.

Goodwill has leased the former office space at 2927 E. 27th Ave. last used by the 50% Off Card Shop. It also is leasing an adjoining open parcel.

The goal is to open the store in September, said Spokane’s Goodwill CEO Clark Brekke. A donation trailer will be installed at the property in July.

It will use about 6,000 square feet in the building, with a staff of around 16.

How many local jobseekers came to the recent Verizon Wireless job fair?

Note to WilburTheDog (commenter)> This story got major display with a photo a week before the job fair. There's no way anyone can assert this event was not given enough advance notification. Click the link below to see that story.

A few weeks ago we featured a job fair by Verizon Wireless, looking to fill a bunch of new store positions at Spokane and North Idaho stores.

So how good a turnout did the company get during the four-hour fair? We learned this much from a company spokeswoman, Erica O'Connor:

“Verizon had 61 applicants attend their recent Spokane retail job fair. The HR team is engaging in follow-up and evaluation with hiring decisions coming soon. Employees selected from this job fair would likely begin training in July.”

 

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John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Alison Boggs Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on spokesman.com and its social networking accounts.

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Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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