February 1, 2008 in Business

Apartment complex has rooms with views, affordable rents

By The Spokesman-Review
 
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON photo

The Spokesman-Review Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Cornerstone Courtyard, a 50-unit complex operated by Northeast Washington Housing Solutions in downtown Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

The owner of a newly refurbished downtown Spokane building offering units with high ceilings, central air conditioning, a fitness area and underground parking seeks residents for an anticipated opening in about a month.

Sound like another pricey condominium project?

It’s not. Cornerstone Courtyard, 151 S. Adams St., is meant to bring 50 units of affordable housing downtown for the bartenders, hotel employees and other working-class people with jobs there – a different option in an area known for upscale condos and former skid-row housing.

“It isn’t substandard housing that has very low rent because it’s substandard, and it isn’t subsidized housing, and it is not condos,” said Lucy Lepinski, director of assets for owner Northeast Washington Housing Solutions. “But I’ll tell you that the people who own those condos, when they see these apartments, they will wish they could live there.”

Once finished, the building only will accept tenants who make 30 percent to 50 percent of the area’s median income. For a family in Spokane, the median was $57,600 as of last February, according to federal data.

The nearly 64,000-square-foot Cornerstone Courtyard offers one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging from an average of about 571 square feet for the smaller units to 1,131 square feet for the largest, which are set aside for families of four or more.

Units will rent for $392 to $689 a month. One-bedroom apartments in similar-sized buildings in Spokane County averaged $438 a month, while three-bedrooms average $714 for the year ending October 2007, according to The Real Estate Report.”They are high-end in appearance, with their high ceilings and air conditioning, washers and driers, microwaves, refrigerators, new carpeting, the walls are new, beautiful big windows,” Lepinski said. “It’s wonderful. People aren’t going to want to move.”

The roughly $11.5 million revamping of the four-story Borning Building, once a warehouse, was funded by several sources, including government and a loan from U.S. Bank that qualified for federal low-income housing tax credits.

Two- and three-bedroom apartments have clothes washers and dryers. And as a move-in gift, renters in three-bedroom units will get four season passes to Riverfront Park, Lepinski said.

In the basement, residents will find a community kitchen and lounge equipped with a Nintendo Wii, a fitness center with exercise machines and a horizontal climbing wall and a community laundry.

The organization also plans to install artwork, including a courtyard sculpture composed of found mechanical pieces and old building doors mounted across from the elevator on each level.

The housing authority also plans to renovate the adjacent Helen Apartments into 35 one-bedroom units, Lepinski said. The organization bought the building, currently low-income apartments, in November for about $686,000, public records show. Eight current tenants in the building are relocating, she said.

That project, funded through similar means, is expected to open in fall 2009, Lepinski said.

Anyone interested in renting at Cornerstone can call Northeast Washington Housing Solutions at (509) 252-7138.

Riverstone soon to have residents

Condominium owners in the first of three large condo buildings at the roughly 160-acre mixed-used Riverstone development in Coeur d’Alene could start moving in later this month or early next month, a developer’s representative said.

Spokane-based SRM Development LLC plans 133 condos in its Village at Riverstone, set above street-level retail. The company has sold about 80 percent of the 55 units in Building A, which cost from about $300,000 to $800,000, said Dave Tomson, development manager.

The second and third buildings, located directly east, are both out of the ground and may be completed this fall, he said. Building C is estimated to cost $9 million, according to a building permit issued earlier this month.

SRM bills the project, situated on a former gravel quarry, as a “live, work and play development,” offering a range of retail and recreational options.

Nearby businesses include a Red Robin restaurant expected to open in March, Starbucks, Cold Stone Creamery and Bardenay. Developers are finalizing a deal with Ironwood Athletic Club for a health club, and they are building out spaces for tenants at a new, about 60,000-square-foot office building that recently opened on Riverstone Drive, he said. Barnes & Noble Inc. announced in December it will build a store that’s expected to open in July.

“That development is the doorstep to Coeur d’Alene,” Tomson said. “It’s certainly a much different look and feel for people as they come into Coeur d’Alene.”

The development, funded in phases by groups of investors, could cost half a billion dollars, Tomson said.

CdA Fred Meyer to be revamped

Demolition has begun on a $4.5 million remodel of the Coeur d’Alene Fred Meyer off Highway 95, expected to be completed by July 30.

The project includes updating décor to create a consistent look throughout the store, at 560 W. Kathleen Ave., and replacing equipment, said Angela Irvine, a project manager for Portland-based Fred Meyer, a division of The Kroger Co. The store will remain open during the work.

Renovations will raise ceilings and add better lighting in apparel departments, update the photo-electronics area with a new ceiling treatment and TV wall and take out stainless steel along service areas in the food department, she said.

The company looks at locations that are between 8- and 11-years old for possible remodels, she said.


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