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Posts tagged: university district

Crowdswell supporters look for big projects, including U-District Bridge

In last week's SR story about Crowdswell, a website launched by partners of Spokane creative firm Magner Sanborn, we mentioned two local “swells” — the name the site uses for worthy projects that people can support through funding or work. The two swells — both appropriately small and manageable — were a slightly damaged bench outside a downtown Spokane business and the desire to install a doggy-pickup bag dispenser along the Centennial Trail in Kendall Yards.

Another new project on Crowdswell is finding support for the proposed pedestrian-bicycle bridge in the University District.

The U-D “bike and ped bridge” has some state and institutional money earmarked. But there's a gap in how much is needed to get the bridge off the drawing board. The total target for the bridge is somewhere around $7 million, said Brandon Rapez-Betty, the U District's project manager.

The hope is that Crowdswell could be used to raise about $200,000 in local and regional support, to get the ball rolling. The goal would not be to cover the full $7 million, but simply fill in the gap that will be left after the state and area groups define their funding levels for the bridge.


GVD and Jerry Dicker buy the vacant Spokane CompUSA building

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Spokane developer Jerry Dicker has added the former CompUSA building to his firm’s list of downtown properties.

Dicker, the principal manager of Spokane-based GVD Commercial Properties, is paying roughly $3 million for the vacant 25,000-square-foot building, at 808 N. Ruby. The seller is the Lyons Family Trust, based in California. It’s been the owner since 1997; CompUSA leased it until the company declared bankruptcy in 2007.

Dicker said he has no immediate plans and is looking for a long-term tenant to lease the commercial building.

“We felt it is a good, strategic property for the long haul,” Dicker said.

Marshall Clark, of Clark Pacific Real Estate, brokered the sale of the building.

GVD is a partner or full owner of several downtown buildings, including the Spokane Interplayers theater building, the Bing Crosby Theater, the Red Lion River Inn, the Hotel Ruby and the Burgan’s building and adjoining warehouse.

For a fuller story, check back at's business section.

McKinstry’s downtown building will start adding companies in its innovation center

If you haven't had a chance to visit the renovated McKinstry Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad building, you ought to find the time.

The company, with headquarters in Seattle, has a corps of about 100 workers in the Spokane area. Last fall it finished a $20 million renovation of the former electric railway maintenance and repair depot, on Spokane Falls Blvd. east of downtown and across from Gonzaga University.

Today's story on the business pages highlighted plans by McKinstry to set aside about 38,000 square feet of the building for an innovation center. The center will open its doors in August, and become a gathering spot-incubator for companies that are looking to accelerate their growth.

At least four companies will move in, come August, said McKinstry VP Tony Stewart. He projected about two dozen tenant companies will eventually fill up the innovation center.

A large portion of the McKinstry building is designed for open space — which is not easy to illustrate, given the unusual configuration of the building. We ran a story last year on the building, with a video, and those images still didn't capture the appealing and deceptively welcoming nature of the interior design.

Can Spokane’s city council delay or halt the Jensen-Byrd building demolition?

Spokane's City Council is likely next week to vote on a resolution about the Jensen-Byrd Building, being sold by WSU to a Texas firm, Campus Advantage.

The old building, once a central warehouse along the city's main rail yard, has become a cherished icon for historic preservation advocates. They view the plan by Campus Advantage to demolish the building as short-sighted. 

Campus Advantage has said it has looked at restoring the building but has concluded the structure is not easily and affordably convertible to a modern student housing complex, which is the plan for the Jensen-Byrd.

While the council is free to pass any resolution it wants, it doesn't have final say on what happens. According to the city's laws, Campus Advantage can apply for a demolition permit if its shows it will build a similar building in the same  spot. 

The request by Campus Advantage to move forward with demolition would have to go through the city's building department.

The council's resolution, as currently worded, urges WSU and Campus Advantage to reconsider the plan and look for ways to either build a high-density student apartment complex elsewhere. Or review the demolition option.

Care to tweet reactions to WSU’s sale of the Jensen-Byrd building?

@SR_Officehours is asking Twitter users to respond to the question:  What do you think of the Jensen-Byrd building sale by WSU to a company that will tear the building down? We'd like to hear your comments or thoughts, in 140 characters or less.

Tweet messages or RTs, and the Tweetstream embedded here should collect all those messages.  Thanks. If you can, use the hashtag #Jensen-Byrd

How many jobs will the demolition of the Jensen-Byrd building create?

So, if you read some of the reader comments found on Thursday's story about Campus Advantage tearing down the Jensen-Byrd building, you may have wondered how many jobs comes out of this development.

The story in a nutshell: many folks regard the 1909 Jensen-Byrd building a major piece of Spokane history. But WSU has agreed to sell it to the Texas company, who will tear it down and replace it with a five-story student apartment complext catering to Riverpoint Campus students and those from nearby Gonzaga University.

How many jobs will the Campus Advantage project create?  Simple answer, not that many. Reader comments on were all over the map on that question.

We can't say how many demolition and construction jobs will come from the effort; the Austin-based firm said it will rely on local contractors but it hasn't even closed the sale yet.

Longer-term, once it opens in fall 2013, the new building will likely hire about 5 fulltime and 5 part-time workers, said Campus Advantage Executive VP Scott Duckett.

Texas firm will raze Jensen-Byrd building, plans 125 units in new structure

The company that's buying the old 1909 Jensen-Byrd building in downtown Spokane has decided it will raze the structure rather than convert it.

Austin-based Campus Advantage paid $2.85 million to Washington State University for the buidling, which is roughly 136,000 square feet on land on the east end of downtown Spokane.

The plan is to demolish the old building and replace it with a five-story student apartment complex with  425 beds  in two- and four-bedroom units with shared bathrooms and shared common areas.
Scott Duckett, a vice president with Campus Advantage, said the goal originally was to save the building — which is not on the Spokane or the federal historic register.
But the interior components and other issues made that conversion too expensive, he said.
The company company plans to break ground in summer 2012 to meet an occupancy date of fall 2013. Its release can be found here
Notably, WSU officials earlier this year turned down a similar offer with the same pricetage by Spokane developer Ron Wells.  A story outlining the reasons WSU didn't select Wells' project will be in Thursday's edition of The Spokesman-Review and on

Are you jacked about Spokane’s Catalyst awards? Maybe our trivia contest will help

Wednesday evening is the annual Spokane Catalyst Awards ceremony. In honor of the event Office Hours on Wednesday will host a Catalyst Trivia Contest. Some nifty award will be given to the winner, nearly as good as (and perhaps more valuable than) a Catalyst.

The nominees cover several categories listed below. The awards start at 4:30 p.m. at McCarthey Athletic Center, at Gonzaga University. Dr. Thayne McCullogh, the new president of GU, will take a role.

For tickets or information go here. Nominees:

Company of the year

  • IT-Lifeline
  • Ptera Wireless
Clean/green company
  • Blue Water Technologies
  • McKinstry
  • ReliOn
  • EWU School of Computing and Engineering Sciences
  • Goodwill Industries Empowerment Zone
  • Sirti, Gonzaga University School of Law and Partnering Law Firms
Clean/green organization
  • Gonzaga University PACCAR Center
  • Main Market Co-op
  • Spokane Indians Baseball Club/Avista Stadium
  • Norm Leatha - Gonzaga University Hogan Program
  • Rhosetta Rhodes - Whitworth University
  • Yvonne Johnson - Spokane Public Schools
Ken Grunzweig Innovator
  • Jim Fleming - GenPrime
  • Jon Eliassen - Red Lion Hotels
  • Kim Zentz - Sirti
Emerging innovator
  • Brian Boler, Caryn Parker, Reid Schilperoot, Andy Whitaker - EcoWell
  • Josh Neblett and Sarah Wollnick - Green Cupboards
  • Justin Lentz - Ink to Media

One year of T1 service equals $5,000 and up

A minor addition to our earlier post about Integra Telecom offering a free year of T1 connectivity for a qualifying Spokane nonprofit organization. The post ran on June 30.

Melissa Moore, a spokeswoman for Portland-based Integra Telecom, said the value of the service is between $5,000 and $6,000.


McKinstry finds a way to restore early Spokane railway history

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If you have a passion for Spokane railroad history, you’ll celebrate recent plans by a Seattle firm to restore one of the area’s historic train sites.

Seattle energy-efficiency building company, McKinstry, has bought the early 1900s-era electric train shop and yards once used by a railway that ran from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene.

The address of the new McKinstry Spokane office is 802 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., south of Gonzaga inside the University District. Notably, it will call the office the Great Northern Building.

McKinstry has about 50 workers in Spokane now, with roughly 1,600 overall at various locations.

A press release from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) praised the company’s plan to grow its Spokane location. The firm focuses on building, designing and managing more energy efficient buildings.

The 1900s-era building McKinstry is converting was the shop and train yards of the Inland Empire Railroad Co. which operated until 1919. It became the Spokane and Eastern Railroad Co. That later became the Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad.

In 1929 the railway was taken over by the Great Northern Railroad.


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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

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

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