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Posts tagged: WSU Spokane

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.

WSU’s sale of Jensen-Byrd building lands on ‘Heritage Turkeys’ of the year

Crosscut, a Puget Sound online news publication, listed its 2011 Heritage Turkeys, a list of notable examples of communities and groups failing to maintain historically relevant places.

On the list was the Washington State University decision to sell the Jensen-Byrd building in downtown Spokane. That decision was reported at the day after the sale was announces.

Crosscut columnist Knute Berger singled out the Jensen-Byrd deal as especially notable since the National Trust for Historic Preservation next fall will hold an annual conference in downtown Spokane.

He quotes Chris Moore of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation saying: “WSU had an opportunity to really be a preservation hero. Instead there will be a hole in the ground where a National Register-eligible building once stood.”

WSU in its defense said the buyer will build a new structure with plenty of housing for students using the area's University District. 

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

Texas firm buys Jensen-Byrd property, plans Riverpoint student housing

A Texas company has purchased the Jensen-Byrd building and property at the Washington State University Spokane site and plans to convert it to student housing and possible commercial space.

The buyer is Campus Advantage, based in Austin. The purchase for $2.85 million was approved Tuesday by WSU regents via a phone conference.

The Jensen-Byrd property covers about 1.5 acres on the west end of the Riverpoint campus, east of downtown Spokane. An appraisal set the value of the 35,173-square-foot complex at $2.9 million. (This figure was listed as $2.1 million in earlier versions, and came from a 2001 appraisal. The newer appraisal was done in 2011.)

The property has three components: the original structure built in 1909, an addition made one year later, and a metal storage shed added in the 1970s. The structure has been vacant for more than 10 years.

The university tried twice in recent years to find a partner to develop the building, without success.

A WSU Spokane press release said Campus Advantage has built and manages student housing on or near university campuses in 21 states.  A Riverpoint Campus Master Plan notes that the area of the Jensen-Byrd building is suitable for housing and mixed uses.

Archive photo shows Matt Cohen, a Spokane historic preservation advocate, near the Jensen-Byrd building.

Sirti sponsors tech innovation workshop April 29

Sirti, the state-funded economic support center for regional tech companies, is hosting an April 29 “Invention to Venture” workshop, at the Spokane Academic Center, WSU Riverpoint Campus.  The session runs from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Here's the description offered by Sirti: “A fast-paced workshop for science and technology students and faculty, as well as members of the university and business communities. Got a great idea for an invention? Not sure how to move your innovation or invention forward? Want to be more innovative in your business? Want to meet cool inventors and get inspired?  Join us for an exciting one-day workshop on the fundamentals of technology entrepreneurship, invention and innovation!”

Cost is $30, $15 for students. Lunch is included.

To register go to

Money to start two export readiness centers

Spokane-area firms looking seriously at exporting products overseas will soon have a new “export readiness center” to assist them.

With a $1.28-million grant from the state Community Economic Revitalization Board, WSU Spokane will host two such centers; one will be in the Seattle area, the second will likely be in the Sirti building, at the Riverpoint Campus. The grant runs for two years.

Spokane already has the International Trade Alliance, a member-backed effort to increase and encourage export trade for area firms.

Brett Rogers, state director of the Washington Small Business Development Center, said the two agencies will work cooperatively. “We will leverage what they do and they will help us the same way,” he said. Some of the training materials that the ITA has will be made available to the export readiness center.

Companies that sign up for the service will receive an assessment of export options and guidance in exporting. Those services are free, said Rogers. The SBDC however does charge for training.

The program focus will be on companies who have not done extensive exporting. As a first step, those client companies will likely be advised to work initially with less-challenging export partners, such as Canada, Japan and Mexico. The export barriers to major markets, like China and India, are larger and take additional levels of sophistication to enter, he said. 

For information on the program, call the SBDC operated by WSU Spokane, at 509-358-7767.


Inside the Applied Sciences Laboratory


Hergen Eilers, the first senior research scientist at WSU’s Applied Sciences Laboratory, in Spokane, gave a 40-minute recap of three key projects he’s heading, all involving advanced work in physics and optics.

His remarks came during a recent yearly meeting explaining the ASL’s progress, now starting its sixth year.

One project is to develop a better way of using lasers to locate and then eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Those buried bombs account for half of all U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, Eilers said at the meeting.

His project is funded by the U.S. Defense Department. It involves using lasers to identify the trickle of tiny electrons emitted by the explosives inside IEDs. The laser can be configured to find the electrons as they vaporize, he said.

Another laser sensor is used to identify the exact location of the explosive.

Eigen has two other defense department projects: one involves testing ways to fully incinerate biological threats; the other is developing a more accurate way to identify nuclear material at transportation checkpoints.

Current detectors still have difficulty with false positives. Bananas and cat litter are among the substances that produce false positives.

Eilier’s sensors also need to find nuclear substances shielded by other materials.

A recap of this week’s story on the ASL’s recent growth will be found, starting later tonight, at


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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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