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Davenport Closing To Clear Way For Long-Awaited Restoration Project

The historic Davenport Hotel will close to the public New Year’s Day.

For years, while restoration of the shuttered grand hotel proceeded piecemeal, all manner of functions from tea dances to wedding receptions have been held in the Davenport’s majestic lobby and lavish meeting rooms.

But that will all come to an end New Year’s Eve when Spokane pianist Arnie Carruthers and his trio play “Auld Lang Syne.” (Tickets are $28 a person, $48 a couple at the door.)

“We’re billing this dance as an historic event which coincides with closing of the hotel,” said ex-mayor of Spokane Sheri Barnard, now a consultant to the hotel’s owners. “There are no more events booked.”

The next time the Davenport opens its doors, it will be as a fully restored grand hotel.

Nearly a dozen years have passed since the cherished landmark was mothballed. Full-scale restoration and redevelopment at a cost that could reach $20 million is scheduled to start early in the new year.

Jeffrey Ng, executive director, said Monday that the plan is to start work in the first quarter of 1998. He said completion of financing is expected in January. Also next month, the hotel’s ownership hopes to sign a contract with a large hotel chain which would link the Davenport into a national reservations and marketing network, Ng said.

Meantime, Shea Construction Inc. of Spokane, general contractor, has been interviewing a “handpicked” group of mechanical and electrical subcontractors in preparation to bid out that work in the next few weeks, reports project manager Dick Lopes. “The greatest part of the work on this job is going to be the mechanical and electrical,” Lopes said, “and we want to make sure we have the right people in the bidding.”

These contracts are scheduled to be awarded in January. Interior demolition to rip out old plumbing and electrical is targeted to begin the first of February, Lopes said.

“It’s all coming together,” said Lopes. “The lender and the franchiser for the hotel are very positive and are eager to get started.”

Hotel Lusso prepares for formal debut

Just across Sprague Avenue from the Davenport Hotel, the Hotel Lusso has been tuning up for its official opening.

Although it won’t accommodate overnight guests until Jan. 12, the new luxury lodging place opened its doors early for a fortunate few who celebrated Christmas surrounded by European-style elegance. “We had a number of Christmas parties for different organizations in December,” reports hotel sales and marketing manager Doug Griepp.

The Hotel Lusso, which is pieced together from two turn-of-the-century historic landmarks, wraps around Fugazzi, a highly popular restaurant that has operated at the corner of Sprague and Post the past few years. The conversion creates a 48-suite boutique establishment that will cater to the corporate market. Prices start at $110 and range to $575 for penthouse suites.

A “garden-style” lobby features an imposing marble fountain imported from Florence. Also adding to the Old World ambience are a huge Mediterranean-style fireplace and library area complete with books.

WestCoast Hotels Inc., which manages a string of two dozen hotels in the West, including the Ridpath in Spokane, has added the Hotel Lusso to its elite Grand Hotel Division, exclusively for top establishments, Griepp said. “Only four of the chain’s properties are grand hotels, says Griepp. “They are the Benson and RiverPlace in Portland, the new Grove Hotel in Boise, and now the Lusso in Spokane.”

Doubletree adding new eatery

The Doubletree Hotel City Center is spending about half a million dollars on a new upscale steak and chops restaurant.

Spencer’s, as the facility is to be called, will seat 100 and adjoin the hotel lobby. The new restaurant is scheduled to open in January.

Downtown revival hits high gear

Entering the new year, downtown Spokane is poised to take a giant step forward.

More new construction and redevelopment projects are in the works and on the drawing boards than at any time in the past quarter century. Not since the Expo ‘74 era has the city seen so much activity.

In the last half of this decade, total public and private dollars invested in the city center, counting projects already completed and those that are committed, will tally half a billion.

These calculations were arrived at by the Downtown Spokane Partnership. “The investment is about equally split between the public and private sectors,” says partnership president Karen Valvano.

“On the public works side, projects range from a new arena and transit center, to restoration of the old post office,” says Valvano. “On the private side, investments run from redevelopment of the River Park Square shopping complex for $100-million-plus to a new awning and interior design for Great Harvest Bread Co.”

Observes Shea Construction’s Lopes, “There are an incredible lot of good things happening downtown. It’s kind of like a domino effect, but in reverse - instead of falling down, things are going up.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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