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Hotel owners ready to build

The sign is still there, but the windows are all gone Thursday at the former St. John's Lutheran Church at Third and Division in Spokane, where the new Best Western hotel will be built.
 (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
The sign is still there, but the windows are all gone Thursday at the former St. John's Lutheran Church at Third and Division in Spokane, where the new Best Western hotel will be built. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

Missing stained-glass windows at a former church in downtown Spokane portend the coming demolition of the brick building to make way for a new hotel.

Hoteliers and property owners John and Rita Santillanes, owners of Best Western Peppertree Inns at Spokane International Airport and in Liberty Lake, plan a five-story, 115-room Best Western on the site at Third and Division.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, which sold the property last year, has removed the windows and other items for its new sanctuary in southwest Spokane.

“Talk about location, location, location: When you get off the highway, coming either way, it’s sitting right there,” said Harry Sladich, president and CEO of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Though the scope of the project has changed – the owners initially proposed a seven- or eight-story hotel and retail – they are moving forward with the five-story hotel. They have completed an environmental report and are waiting for results of a traffic study that will complete their application to the city for the estimated $13 million project, Rita Santillanes said. They bought the property in July for about $1.9 million, county records show.

“We’re a little bit behind because of the weather this winter,” she said. “The church has taken, I think, almost everything they want out of the church at this point.”

The hotel will have an indoor swimming pool and a three-story parking structure.

“It became financially more feasible to do this and have no retail, because the parking structure was so expensive,” Santillanes said.

The nearby Subway fast-food restaurant will be demolished, but not for a few more months at the earliest, she said.

The owners hope to open the hotel by June 2009. For now, they’ll erect a fence around the church, which transients have frequented in recent months.

“We thought we’d try to fence it off and make the entrance to our city look a little bit better,” she said.

Club at Black Rock grows

Marshall Chesrown’s The Club at Black Rock is poised to expand by 1,100 acres, including a golf course and one-of-a-kind kids’ summer camp.

Coeur d’Alene-based Black Rock Development expects a final plat to be approved by the end of this month, allowing it to begin selling lots for 325 homes, company President Roger Nelson said. Lots will range from 1 to 2 acres and sell for about $400,000 to $2 million, he said.

A one-time, refundable $125,000 buys homeowners memberships in the club, which operates a horse camp in Harrison, marina and beach club and existing golf course. A second course, designed by Tom Weiskopf, is slated to open next year. Opening today, the private Kootenai Camp is a kids’ dream, including a pool with waterslides, a zip line, sports courts and a clubhouse stocked with video games.

Building the golf course and infrastructure for the expansion will cost an estimated $30 million, Nelson said.

Café planned for Metropole

A new downtown Spokane bistro is expected to open this fall in the ground floor of the Metropole Apartment Building, 176 S. Howard St.

The Taste Café and Market will offer simple, healthy foods, soups and sandwiches, said Hannah Heber, who will co-own the restaurant with her mother, Jane. Hannah Heber left her job at Williams-Sonoma’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco to come to Spokane and pursue her dream of opening a café, she said.

“I think what we’re trying to achieve is few ingredients, just good quality, good standard healthy food,” she said.

The Hebers will lease a 1,117-square-foot space on the corner of Howard and Second Avenue, according to Mark McLees, a sales and leasing agent with NAI Black who handled the deal.

The café will offer takeout and delivery downtown. Owners intend to open Sept. 1.

The Spokane City Council voted in December to list the brick Metropole on the Spokane Register of Historic Places.

Coffee shop expanding

Coffee, tea and “specialty shoppe” On Sacred Grounds, 12212 E. Palouse Highway, expects to finish an expansion this month.

The 140-square-foot addition will hold 1,001 book titles under a “barn-like pitched roof,” according to a news release from proprietor Elaine Rising.A grand reopening is scheduled for July 18 and 19 to correspond with the second annual Artists Loose on the Palouse Arts and Craft Fair.

Valley Ben Bridge is closing

The Ben Bridge Jeweler outlet in Spokane Valley Mall will close after Sunday, according to a notice mailed to customers.

The June 4 letter from the manager states, “We’ve made the difficult decision to concentrate our collective efforts in the Spokane area at our store in the NorthTown Mall.” A representative of Seattle-based Ben Bridge could not be reached for comment.