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Medical center designing facility for women, children

Kootenai Medical Center plans to add a  $30 million Women’s and Children’s Center. Construction could start in April and would take about 18 to 20 months to complete. Courtesy of NAC Architecture (Courtesy of NAC Architecture / The Spokesman-Review)
Kootenai Medical Center plans to add a $30 million Women’s and Children’s Center. Construction could start in April and would take about 18 to 20 months to complete. Courtesy of NAC Architecture (Courtesy of NAC Architecture / The Spokesman-Review)

A three-story addition to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene would provide a new area to care for mothers and babies and free up space in the existing hospital to potentially expand surgical space.

A $30 million project, the Kootenai Health Women’s and Children’s Center is still in the design phase, said Don Soltman, Kootenai Health’s vice president of support services. It would be built on the east side of the main hospital campus south of Interstate 90 and west of U.S. Highway 95.

The upper floors of the 52,000-square-foot building would comprise pediatric care, labor and delivery rooms, nurseries and operating rooms for Caesarean sections. The roughly 15,500-square-foot first floor would be left vacant for future needs.

“We really got input from people in the community, mothers who have delivered here,” said Kim Anderson, a company spokeswoman.

“And we worked very closely with the staff in labor and delivery now to really incorporate their ideas into the design.”

That included building a mock room at an off-site warehouse to solicit input, she said.

While the project timeline remains uncertain, construction could start in April and would take an estimated 18 to 20 months to complete, Soltman said. The project is being designed by NAC Architecture, and Bouten Construction Co. will manage it.

The expansion would be funded by reserves, Soltman said.

The current women’s area of the hospital, which backs up against operating rooms, might be used to alleviate operating-room shortages, he said.

Iron Bridge to expand

The Social Security Administration intends to occupy a planned 46,000-square-foot building at the Iron Bridge office park in Spokane, the park’s developer says.

The U.S. General Services Administration has issued two letters of intent to lease space in the building, 714 N. Iron Bridge Way, for SSA field offices and for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, said developer Kent Hull.

Constructing the edifice, the third office building at the development, is expected to cost about $6 million, with financing provided by the Bank of Whitman, Hull said.

The SSA offices would take up the entire first floor and 15,000 square feet of the second floor, said Hull, who also plans to move his offices into the upper floor.

Organizers have submitted an application for a $530,000 state grant that would pay for rehabilitating the development’s namesake former railroad bridge, which Hull and others see becoming a link between office park trails and the Centennial Trail on the other side of the river.

The Spokane City Council last month passed a resolution supporting and authorizing the application to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

Whiz Kids closes shops

Spokane specialty toy store Whiz Kids has closed two of its locations and consolidated operations at its retail stores in the River Park Square mall downtown.

Husband-and-wife owners Peter Christensen and Susan Peterson shuttered company stores on Prairie Avenue in Hayden and at Hawthorne Road and Division Street in north Spokane in the past two months, Peterson said.

The move came three years after they merged their shops and opened the additional stores, which never performed as well as the downtown shops, she said.

“Basically I think we just saw a slowdown in business because of the economy,” she said. “It seems to me maybe the customers in suburban areas have been hit harder by higher gas prices.”

They also have their own 15-month-old whiz kid, another factor that played into their decision, Peterson said.

Soulful Soups for sale

While the long and snowy winter hindered some local businesses, at least one thrived on people spending time indoors: Soulful Soups, a downtown Spokane eatery known for its homemade soups and beer bread.

“Long summers hurt me, but not long winters,” said owner Makayla Hamilton.

Despite a year-to-year increase in sales of 16 percent, however, Hamilton has put the business, 117 N. Howard St., up for sale online. For $99,500, a buyer would receive training in how to run the business, Soulful Soups recipes and its customer base, she said.

“I’ve just been doing it for eight years, and my intention was never to do it for the rest of my life,” she said.

She’s lost about 200 pounds over the past couple of years, and running the restaurant is “in an odd way kind of like an alcoholic owning a bar,” she added.

Reach Parker Howell at (509) 459-5491 or at