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Thirty-five units planned at Pearl

Northeast Washington Housing Solutions envisions turning the three-story Helen Apartments, 173 S. Adams St. in Spokane, into a Pearl for downtown.

The 35 one-bedroom units at the Pearl on Adams will serve people making less than 50 percent of the area’s median income, which is $56,700. The state caps rents for people making that much at $500 a month, said Steve Cervantes, executive director for Housing Solutions. Other units will be cheaper.

Before Housing Solutions bought the building in November, it primarily housed convicts released by the Department of Corrections, Cervantes said. The apartments were not top quality, but “just having a roof over your head” was sufficient for people getting out of prison, Cervantes said.

Housing Solutions plans to gut the structure, built in 1911, and install an elevator, reconfigure units to make utilities more efficient and add apartments inside Dinghy’s Tavern, a former pool hall.

Many of the units are littered with furniture and other detritus from their prior occupants. The white marble steps inside the front doors are chipped, and carpets and walls are stained. Units have high ceilings and large windows, but many smell of stale tobacco. Housing Solutions already cleaned five rooms of toxic methamphetamine residue, tearing them down to the studs.

Three apartments will be located in the basement. Inside a furnace there, police several years ago found the bones of murder victim Kelly Conway. A jury later convicted Stanley Pietrzak, a former manager of the apartments, of killing her.

Seven units in the Pearl on Adams will be set aside for the homeless, and seven will be reserved for people with disabilities. Housing Solutions hopes to open the building in about a year.