April 4, 2008 in Business

Work begins on new eye clinic

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Travis Kindig, of Woodard Construction, uses a hoe ram to break up rock Thursday at the site of the new 44,000-square-foot Spokane Eye Clinic building.
(Full-size photo)

Also in today’s Here’s the Dirt

•Law firm moving to bank building.

•STCU to open new branches.

The vision of a new Spokane Eye Clinic PS building is taking shape on South Bernard Street.

Earth-moving equipment and towering mounds of dirt at the site are visible from Interstate 90. Workers will transform a former parking lot into a four-story, 44,000-square-foot building to replace the clinic’s adjacent structure. The $9.6 million project is expected to be finished by July, said Dr. Jerry LeClaire.

With about 17 doctors and 143 employees at three locations, the clinic has outgrown the existing building, built in 1955, he said.

“There’s standing room only in the waiting areas some days,” he said. “So initially it will offer greater flexibility and efficiency in scheduling.”

The two bottom floors will be a parking garage. A clinic will occupy the third floor and administrative offices and five operating rooms the fourth. The old building will be razed and turned into parking spots.

The building could accommodate nine ophthalmologists and optometrists. The clinic plans to add doctors, LeClaire said.

Arena restaurant planned

Sports fans and concertgoers at the Spokane Arena later this year might have a sit-down dining option.

Arena operator Spokane Public Facilities District last week received a building permit for Northwest Grille, which will replace a defunct smoking area on the northwest side of the building, said Matt Gibson, assistant general manager.

“It is an upscale dining facility offering a little more upscale fare than your typical arena food,” Gibson said. “We’re turning it into something a little more usable and beneficial for our guests.”

Slated to open this fall, Northwest Grille construction ties in with renovations to create a new entrance for VIPs and suite holders, Gibson said. The arena already has two food courts and several concessionaire stands.

The restaurant work will cost about $1.4 million, according to the permit.

Law firm moving to bank building

A large Spokane law firm specializing in intellectual property has signed a long-term lease for new offices inside Spokane’s tallest building, the Bank of America Financial Center.

Lee & Hayes PLLC will take 27,097 square feet on the 13th and 14th floors of the building, 601 W. Riverside Ave., expanding its space by half.

Representing six of the 20 largest patent filers nationwide, the firm employs more than 75 people in Spokane and Seattle, including 40 attorneys and patent agents. The company wants to hire at least 12 more IP attorneys and support staff, according to a news release.

Building owner Unico Properties LLC, of Seattle, plans to replace the building’s aging plaza along Riverside Avenue and renovate the structure’s northwest corner to include a café opening onto Wall Street in a roughly $2.5 million project. Interior improvements will include updating elevators, common areas and the lobby.

The design of the office, including an internal stairway to connect the floors, will reflect the “egalitarian” culture of the firm, said CEO Shaun Cross.

Founded in 1994 by Lewis Lee and Dan Hayes, the firm employs 31 local attorneys and patent agents. Clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Boeing. Local clients include Telect Inc. and Pyrotek Inc.

The firm currently is based on the fifth floor of the Paulsen Building. It plans to move in by Oct. 1.

STCU to open new branches

Spokane Teachers Credit Union is planning its 13th location, a 3,400-square-foot branch at Northtown Square, a boutique shopping center slated to replace the Wendle Northtown auto dealership across Division Street from NorthTown mall.

Expected to open next spring, the branch will employ 12 people and feature a drive-through and 24-hour ATM, according to a news release. It’s the first announced tenant for the estimated $20 million commercial complex.

Plans call for the current Ford and Suzuki Wendle dealership, 4727 N. Division St., to move to Wendle at the Y, where a 26,000-square-foot Nissan dealership showroom and auto-care center is nearly completed. Demolition should start in May, said Chud Wendle, managing member of developer Northtown Square LLC, a partnership between the Wendle family and Dixon Investment Co.

STCU expects to open its new Liberty Lake branch on East Appleway Boulevard this month.

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