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‘Time right’ for Lincoln remodel

An artist's rendering of plans for the Lincoln Building remodel.
 (The Spokesman-Review)
An artist's rendering of plans for the Lincoln Building remodel. (The Spokesman-Review)

The Lincoln Building will undergo an $8 million remodel this year, the latest in a string of big-dollar downtown Spokane projects.

Built on the corner of Lincoln and Riverside in 1963, the building once was the home of Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank and in recent years has served as second-tier office space.

That’s about to change, said David Peterson, vice president for G&B Real Estate services, the property division of WestCoast Hospitality Corp.

“The building has always been in a good location, but with the growing arts and entertainment district, and the retail activity to the north, we just think the time is right,” he said.

Peterson estimated that work on the building can begin by late summer. That includes perhaps as many as four new retail storefronts along Riverside and a reconfigured pedestrian plaza.

He mentioned a restaurant and a bank branch as ideal tenants for the new space.

“We want to put tenants in there that create activity,” he said.

The large plaza — now an unused space dominated by a fountain and several large planters — will be changed to encourage customers to visit the new street-level stores. Better lighting and landscaping are planned.

The top of the building will look different, too. New windows and a redesigned crown will update the structure.

Construction crews also are scheduled to resurface the parking area beneath the garage, and install new lighting. WestCoast anticipates opening the 200 spots during the evening for event parking.

WestCoast will borrow money for the project from Compass Group, a regional union pension fund lender. No public money will be sought or used, Peterson said.

The building was originally developed and managed by Goodale & Barbieri Cos., the predecessor to WestCoast Hospitality, on behalf of Lincoln Mutual. The $4.5 million project was the late Lou Barbieri’s first major downtown venture.

At the time, the building was the first in the West to use specially designed structural steel by Bethlehem Steel Co. that erased the need for supporting columns within the building.

This gave tenants at the time the flexibility to plan office layouts without wasted space, a breakthrough in the early 1960s.

Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank sold the building to Goodale & Barbieri in 1984, about the time Lincoln was merged with Washington Mutual Savings Bank.

For years it sported a giant flashing reader board on the roof that displayed time and temperature. It was unplugged in 1988.

The building’s 110,000 square feet has since been used as office space. Today, the occupancy rate is about 64 percent, including original tenant New York Life Insurance Co.

The remodeling work, Peterson said, will upgrade the building from class B to class A office space.