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Office Hours

Archive for September 2013

Berg affiliate buys former Caterpillar warehouse in Spokane Valley

Business partnership group CDA Loon LLC has purchased the former Caterpillar plant at 6811 E. Mission Ave. in Spokane Valley. The group paid $2.7 million for the 124,000-square-foot building sitting on 7.8 acres.

The buyer is affiliated with Spokane Valley-based Berg Co. It plans to use the warehouse to consolidate its diverse manufacturing operations.

Earl Engle and Darren Stack were the listing agents, and James Black III represented Berg in the deal. All three work with NAI Black.

Liberty Mutual will add roughly 400 more workers to its new Liberty Lake building

IF you didn't see this in Sunday's paper, you didn't look hard enough. It's worth repeating:

Liberty Mutual Insurance is expanding its Liberty Lake operations.

The Boston-based firm will add as many as 400 more workers to the Meadowwood Three building, now under construction south of the former Agilent Technologies office building.

Greenstone Corp., which bought the 70-acre Agilent property and renamed it the Meadowwood Technology Campus, is leasing the 64,000-square-foot building to Liberty Mutual. It has about 800 call center and support workers in that big building.

The company is listing some jobs for the new location on its corporate website. Liberty Mutual expects to move into the new building in mid-2014.

GU law school will offer an accelerated two-year program starting in 2014

It's not cheap to go to law school.  The GU law school website warns prospective students the “typical” year there will run  $53,049.  The law school's tuition comes to $1,212 per credit hour. All living costs (food and lodging) come to around $14,429 per year.

Which explains in part why GU today (Sept. 30) announced it's creating an accelerated two-year law degree program. It won't replace the three-year program; it will add, next year, the choice of going to law school three terms per year, instead of the traditional two (with summers in the traditional schedule used for jobs or internships.)

The full GU press announcement on the change is here.

Rescue trap maker adds trap that hides the insects it kills

Why do people think dead bugs in a plastic container, sitting near one's patio, presents a problem of etiquette or asthetics?

It could just be the ick factor, the impact of seeing scores of dead bugs piled together, an image not helpful to happy socializing. Or, on a higher level, it might be the unwanted reminder that all things must pass — another thought that discourages easy banter and convivial exchanges.

Which then explains why Spokane trap-maker Sterling International has introduced what it calls the OrnamenTrap, a plastic trap disguised as a piece of ceramic The company plans to introduce it at U.S. retail locations next year.

From the Rescue website: “The OrnamenTrap combines the appeal of being a non-toxic pest control solution and an American-made product with the element of beautiful outdoor décor,” explained Rod Schneidmiller, president and founder of Sterling International, makers of RESCUE! ® products. “

Fall Festival of new homes starts this weekend, showcasing 32 homes

Homes Show.

This weekend and Oct. 4-6 will be the dates for this year's Fall Festival of Homes, presented by the Spokane Home Builders Association. The show sponsor is Pro-Build Spokane.

This year's show features 32 new homes by 18 builders, constructed at assorted area sites. The four “host” sites are River District in Liberty Lake, Elk Ridge Heights in the Spokane Valley, Five Mile Heights in North Spokane and Eagle Ridge in South Spokane.

Hours will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For more information, go to SpokaneFestivalofHomes.com. Maps and event information are available. You can also look at the printed special insert in the Sept. 25 edition of the Spokesman-Review.

The event includes readers' polls and a number of promotions including prizes from several Spokane-area retailers.

ERG helped Spokane’s Sterling International develop next ‘bug’ thing

Today's Business section story about the new traps being produced in Spokane by the Rescue company explained how the R&D team used technology to measure bugs' retinal response to different colors. The photo here, by the SR's Dan Pelle, shows Sterling's entomologists Qing-He Zhang and Paul Bryant.

That process is called ERG, electroretinography. It's very cool, and in the Rescue lab, it's done by connecting electric wires to the tiny retinal surfaces of certain insects. By sending different wavelengths of energy to the retina, the tool measures the response.

The full spectrum of visible colors, from red to ultraviolet, is tested and the resulting responses — measured by computers — are used to plot a color pattern that that insect should be responsive to.

Here's the best overall primer on ERG, on Wikipedia.

Will the federal government get involved in regulating e-cigarettes?

Smoking is bad, and no one really contests the “overbearing” role of government in policing where and when people can smoke their cigarettes.

But along came e-cigarettes, and people began asking serious questions: are they dangerous to one's health to be near one? Can they producing second-hand vapor that's harmful?  What about their impact on the health of teens or adults?

Which is the context for why attorneys general from 40 states this week asked Food and Drug Administration  to restrict the advertising, ingredients and sale of electronic cigarettes to youths.

The call for action comes less than three weeks after a government survey showed the percentage of high-school students who have tried e-cigarettes —which turn nicotine-laced liquid into vapor—rose to 10 percent last year from 4.7 percent two years ago.

As a recent WSJ.com story noted: “The battery-powered devices aren't regulated by federal authorities, but the FDA is aiming to propose regulations by Oct. 31 for the small but fast-growing alternative to traditional cigarettes. Federal rules prohibit the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 18 and more than two dozen

NorthTown Mall adds a mural saluting region’s natural beauty

Rumors keep floating that some major renovations are planned for NorthTown Mall.

Well, we can't nail anything down.

We did learn that the mall added a big ol' bright mural on the second level across from the Earthbound Trading Company. That's a short distance from the food court.

Shown here, the work is a salute to the natural beauty of the Spokane region, done by local artist Peggy Best.

The mural started in August after several months of discussions between mall managers and Best.

“We had this wonderful wall space that was being under-utilized,” said John Shasky, the mall's GM.

“We started talking about what we could do and the discussions always seemed to focus on some type of public art and Spokane’s rich heritage.  Bringing Peggy on board with her fresh ideas and incredible talent brought it full circle,” he said, in a release.

Here’s the Dirt: STCU building Idaho branch

Spokane Teachers Credit Union is opening a branch at The CrossRoads Coeur d’Alene. It’s the same retail center where WinCo Foods plans to open a grocery.

While the retail area developed by Hughes Investments is expected to open in March, construction of the credit union at the corner of Ramsey Road and West Appleway Avenue will begin within the next 18 months.

CrossRoads will be STCU’s fourth location in Idaho. The branch will be 3,500 square feet with drive-through lanes.

Cord-cutting continues to grow, slowly; least likely to cut: ESPN fans

New survey by Magid Associates on cord-cutters — those who are quitting cable or satellite paid-TV service — shows a slow but steady growth. See the related story at All Things D.

But the bad news is: If you're addicted to sports (or have a spouse with that affinity), the chance of cord-cutting decreases dramatically. See the attached chart that lays out the groups most and least likely to cut.

That means, if your wife loves to watch the Zags on ESPN or on satellite, you're going to be a cable subscriber indefinitely.

The Magid chart, included in this post, shows that those least likely to switch or cut are ESPN fans.

Spokane County’s jobless rate falls to 7.2 percent in August

Spokane County's jobless rate in August dropped to 7.2 percent, the lowest in 2013, the state Employment Security Department said.

The number is not seasonally adjusted.

In August a year ago, the jobless rate was 8.6 percent. The net job gain from 12 months ago, the ESD reported, was 6,700. The leading sectors were health, construction, leisure-hospitality, warehousing and transport, and food and drink services.

A full update on the latest numbers will be on Spokesman.com later Tuesday.

Quest hands over its 100th Kodiak aircraft at recent Sandpoint ceremony

Sandpoint's Quest Aircraft Company handed over its 100th Kodiak aircraft in a recent ceremony at the company headquarters.

The 100th aircraft went to Sunstate Aviation, based in Phoenix. Representatives of the company’s owner, Mike Watts, were on hand to accept delivery of their new single-prop aircraft. SunState is a flight training company.

“The Kodiak is the perfect aircraft for us,” said Watts in a prepared release. “It has the performance capabilities I was looking for and a cabin with the right mix of personal comfort and space for baggage and other equipment that we need.”

The Kodiak is a 10-place turboprop utility airplane, designed for short takeoff or landing (STOL) use and float capability.

Quest was established in 2001 and began deliveries of the Kodiak in December 2007.

The Kodiak aluminum construction combines superior STOL performance and high useful load. It's designed especially to operate in remote areas with limited or unimproved surfaces.

Red Lion adding another franchise hotel in Walla Walla, following renovation

Red Lion Hotels Corp. is adding a new franchise hotel in Walla Walla, helping the hospitality chain add a property in the heart of Eastern Washington's wine country.

The formal switch to the Red Lion system is expected to occur later this year following a full renovation.

The future property is the Red Lion Inn & Suites Walla Walla, at 325 E. Main St, in downtown Walla Walla.

It has 80 rooms.  Renovations include a breakfast room and lobby, updated guest rooms, a fitness center and a new whirlpool spa. The hotel is walking distance f rom the Whitman College campus.

The current owner of the hotel, BHG Hotels, also owns the Red Lion Hotel Portland Airport in Oregon.
  

Walla Walla hotel converting to Red Lion franchise later this year

Red Lion Hotels Corp. is adding a new franchise hotel in Walla Walla, helping the hospitality chain add a property in the heart of Eastern Washington's wine country.

The formal switch to the Red Lion system is expected to occur later this year following a full renovation.

The future property is the Red Lion Inn & Suites Walla Walla, at 325 E. Main St, in downtown Walla Walla.

It has 80 rooms.  Renovations include a breakfast room and lobby, updated guest rooms, a fitness center and a new whirlpool spa. The hotel is walking distance from the Whitman College campus.

The current owner of the hotel, BHG Hotels, also owns the Red Lion Hotel Portland Airport in Oregon.
  

David Sabey will present this year’s GU Pigott lecture

If you've wanted to ask David Sabey some questions, you'll get your chance next week. The longtime Seattle businessman and pres of Sabey Corp. will deliver the Gonzaga University School of Business Administrations' annual Pigott Entrepreneurship lecture at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

The Thursday event is in the GU Jepson Center Wolff Auditorium. His remarks are titled “An Algorithm of Entrepreurship: How Jesuit-Inspired Core Values Shaped My Career.”

The lecture is free and will be followed by a Q and A.

To reserve a seat visit www.gonzaga.edu/sbalecture.

Sabey's lengthy and successful career encompasses a wide range of commercial activities, including managing data centers, real estate development, healhcare and life science research. He's a founder of the Seattle Science Foundationg, created to foster collaboration between scientists, practitioners and engineers.

The pub empire grows larger, as the four partners plan to open ‘new’ Geno’s

Long live Geno's. After a brief stint as an upscale eatery, a fire of mysteriou9s origins this summer closed the north Spokane eatery.

The four guys who run several other food establishments will open the new Geno's within a month, and we wish them good luck.

Today's SR story provides the context and history of the group — who can claim to be the area's Neighborhood Pub Conglomerate.

Cajer Neely appointed president and director for RiverBank

Longtime banking executive Cajer Neely has been named president and director of RiverBank, a Spokane commercial bank. Its website is RiverBankOnline.com.

Neely has worked in area financial institutions for more than 30 years, most recently with Wells Fargo.

He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1976 and was an honors graduate from the Pacific Coast Banking School in 1990.
 
As of June this year RiverBank had total assets of approximately $115 million and had 25 employees. 

Sterling share price did show a large spike several days before Umpqua deal

The day after Sterling Financial announced it's being taken over by Portland-based Umpqua Bank, here's one graphic that raises questions about who knew about the merger early-on.

The story of the announcement ran in the Sept. 12 Spokesman Review and online.

The graphic here shows a 30-day chart of the public share prices of Sterling vs. Umpqua vs. a regional community bank, PacWest Bank. All trade on the Nasdaq. Sterling is green, Umpqua is blue.

Sterling's stock shows the most impressive jump, and that has led some lurkers and outsiders to wonder who got advance word of the deal.  The Great Stock Price Leap occurs from Aug. 21 through Aug. 24.

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MacKenzie River Pizza will open its downtown eatery next wek

It's roughly a week before MacKenzie River Pizza opens its downtown food location in the Lincoln Plaza Building, at Lincoln and Riverside.

It's taking the spot last used by Ciao Mambo. Both brands are part of the Glacier Restaurant Group based in Whitefish, Mont.

Workers this week were completing the move-in of the industrial pizza ovens.

No exact opening date has been announced. If you know the date, leave a message here.

It’s official: the previous rendering of Walt Worthy’s proposed hotel was out-of-date

Office Hours pulled the image that ran with a blog entry yesterday about the proposed Convention Center hotel.

This was done at the request of Matt Jensen, who works for the Davenport Collection, the corporate entity that runs the Davenport buildings, the Lusso and would run the new hotel, if it's built.

We debated not pulling the rendering, which appeared online at the Public Facilities District site. It was, at one time, a formal rendering presented to the district during earlier discussions.

Jensen said the old rendering is no longer up-to-date and doesn't reflect the most recent plans for the building. Since we'd rather have a true rendering, we opted to pull the image.

Jensen said a new rendering should be available within a week.

Innovative $1.5 million commercial project underway at 55th and Regal

Ahmad and Fery Haghighi, owners of Fery’s Catering, are building a commercial office building at 5608 S. Regal St. They plan on tenants moving in by the end of the year.

Estimated to cost $1.5 million, the 7,200-square-foot building will cater to retail or office clients.

No tenant leases have been signed, said Guy Byrd, of Cornerstone Property Advisors, who’s representing the owners.

Architects for the project are Clark Architects PS, with Dave Shockley. The general contractor is Spokane-based Kop Construction.

The Haghighis will continue operating their catering business near downtown, Fery Haghighi said.

They asked architect Steve Clark to design the building and his first reaction was to refuse, he said. “The one thing I didn’t want was to work on a strip-mall commercial design,” he told them.

But they convinced him to tackle the project with a look toward sleek and contemporary design, Clark said.

The result will be a building relying mostly on glass and steel and accents of burnt-wood soffits, Clark said.

Office Hours pulls previous rendering of Worthy’s convention center hotel

We pulled the architectural redering that was posted here yesterday, showing one possible view of the proposed downtown Convention Center hotel.

The Worthy company said, Hey, that's not the current and updated rendering. They asked us to pull it and we agreed, after considering briefly the option of leaving it here at least as part of the record.

We found that rendering on the page listed below, at the Spokane Publc Facilities District.

The drumbeat of downtown development booms along.

The image appeared on the Spokane Public Facilities District webpage:

A rendition shows how the Highline Lofts at Kendall Yards will look

More stuff on the expansion of commercial properties at Kendall Yards, the big development just west of downtown Spokane.

Three new buildings are on the drawing boards; two are restaurants (whose names and owners have not been announced); a third is the Highline Lofts. It will be built generally across the street from Central Food, the first commercial building in Kendall Yards, a residential-commercial development operated by Greenstone Corp.

Work is just starting on the Lofts, which we're featuring here in a rendering. It will be about 27,000 square feet of retail on the main floor and two floors of apartments. It's expected to open next spring, with rents offered at market rates.

If you want to see a map for the site location, open the PDF document link just below this text box.


Documents:

How likely will a big firm move into new Liberty Lake commercial building?

We're expecting a news announcement this month about a possible expansion of the Meadowwod Technology Campus, in Liberty Lake.

The rumor is that a large financial services firm is likely to lease a new building, Meadowwood Three, south of the existing large original (former Agilent) building near Molter and Mission.

Today's Spokesman.com story put together as much as was available on the deal. Even Liberty Lake planning officials are keeping mum on the name of the possible tenant. Seems they're dead-set on not possibly squelching a big new tax-paying corporation from getting into the park.

Here's a rendering from Bernardo-Wills Architects, of Spokane, showing what the 64,000-square-foot Meadowwood Three building might look like.

WSU Wine Science Center will be toasted on Sept. 26 in the Tri-Cities

Who's going to pay for the celebatory champagne toast, when Gov. Jay Inslee and a host of wine industry folks meet in the Tri-Cities to fomally break ground on a new wine science center?.

The new center — officially the Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities — will be a key statewide effort to nurture and support the region's wine industry. The groundbreaker starts at 10 a.m. on Sept. 26.

Its goal, as summarized in a WSU release, is to triple the economic impact of this $8.6 billion industry to reach more than $20 billion by 2020.
 
“Having this research facility is critical to the continued growth of our Pacific Northwest wine industry,” said Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, a WSU Regent and chair of the WSU Campaign for Wine.
 
The Wine Science Center Development Authority selected Lydig Construction Inc. and ALSC Architects of Spokane to design and build the project. The $23 million building will have approximately 39,300 gross square feet and is being designed to LEED Silver standards.

A major gift was a $600,000 in-kind donation of equipment to the center by Spokane Industries, which makes high-end wine fermentation tanks. Our SR story explains the gift. A story on the making of the vessels can be found here.
 
The conceptual design includes a research and teaching winery, state-of-the-art research laboratories, classrooms, conference rooms, and a regional and international wine library. A dramatic central lobby will provide views of the research winery floor and outdoors toward the Columbia River and the WSU Tri-Cities campus.

Construction is expected to be complete in early 2015.

WSU professor recognized as a ‘top idea’ innovator by Sports Biz Journal

WSU Pullman Engineering School Professor Sankar (Jay) Jayaram has been cited by Sports Business Journal as one of 15 “top idea innovators.”

Jayaram was lauded for his work with Pullman-based 3D-4U Solutions in developing a personal event viewer that gives individualized and interactive options for people watching an event on a traditional secreen or on a 3D screen.

Jayaram, along with his wife, Uma Jayaram, also an associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are co-founders of 3D-4U Solutions

The technology lets the viewer control with manual touchscreens or buttons what they watch and what angle or direction of replay of an event is transmitted. The devices can use both live-event mode or on-demand mode with full DVR functionality. The technology was first showcased at Washington State University’s newly upgraded luxury suites in Martin Stadium.

3D-4U Solutions has since released a mobile app named iStadium in the Apple store and Google Market Place for mobile devices. The company will soon add capabilities that allow people to instantly share their unique, personally produced view of events. This technology has generated considerable interest nationally and internationally for sports, concerts, and security.

A WSU magazine feature on the system appeared this year.

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