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Builder, developer battling over CdA lofts

Fri., Oct. 24, 2008

A Spokane construction firm and an affiliate of Black Rock Development are tangling over payment for work on a Coeur d’Alene waterfront condominium project.

Walker Construction Inc. alleges River House Development Inc. owes it at least $2.4 million for work on the 44-unit Riverfront House lofts overlooking the Spokane River. But River House, of which developer Marshall Chesrown is president, claims Walker breached its contract by failing to finish the job on time and to correct “nonconforming work.”

Black Rock advertises the condos, located near the Village at Riverstone west of downtown, for $395,000 to $1.73 million. About 17 of the units have sold, and another is under contract, Chesrown said.

“I think it’s done pretty well considering the condo business is flat to zero,” he said.

In July Walker filed a mechanic’s lien against the project, part of Black Rock’s Bellerive development. But River House subsequently filed a surety bond to release the lien and allow sales to continue. Walker asserts it has “substantially performed” all work, according to documents filed in Kootenai County District Court. Walker asks for a court order foreclosing on the mechanic’s lien and a judgment against the bond.

River House, meanwhile, alleges Walker breached its contract requiring it to finish the maximum $16.2 million project by Oct. 17, 2007. The company also claims the contract stipulates Walker must pay $5,000 in damages for each day the work is delayed. It asks the court to dismiss Walker’s claims and award damages of at least $1.5 million.

The dispute also is subject to binding arbitration, which is pending separately.

Ridpath floors sold

Will Spokane again have a downtown hotel-top restaurant with views of the city?

That may be a possibility after a local company bought the top two floors of the Ridpath Hotel tower, including the space that housed Ankeny’s restaurant and bar.

Spokane-based Poacher’s Rock LLC bought the floors, which total about 15,000 square feet and comprise 13 commercial condominiums, from owner 515 Washvada Investments LLC, according to a news release. A new restaurant is one concept for the space, a real estate agent involved in the sale told the Spokane Journal of Business.

Poacher’s Rock is linked to Greg Jeffreys, a partner in buying the Executive Court portion of the Ridpath across First Avenue a couple years ago; plans to turn that into more than 50 condos fell through. A woman who answered the phone at his office said he did not want to comment.

A group of local investors had considered buying the top floors of the tower for a lounge, but that deal fell apart earlier this year.

The Ridpath itself unexpectedly shut down in August. Douglas Da Silva, a managing member for Washvada Investments, said at the time it could reopen early next year.

Council still pondering fees

Spokane City Council members continue to defer a vote on proposed traffic impact fees that would charge developers to pay for traffic-system upgrades.

Even if the City Council passes the proposed measure, it likely would not take effect until next year, said council President Joe Shogan.

“We’re still in deliberative process,” he said.

Developers have opposed the fees, which could add thousands of dollars to the cost of projects, while neighborhood advocates have called for speedy implementation to comply with state growth-management laws.

After being asked to look at potential economic effects of the proposal, city staff members advised the council that “just because you have this fee here in the city of Spokane doesn’t mean you’re going to drive them automatically across the border” to places without fees, said Eldon Brown, acting director of the Public Works and Utilities Division.

Dutch Bros. to open

While Starbucks this year decided to close an area store, an Oregon-based drive-through coffee chain still is expanding – and offering free coffee on its opening day.

The second Coeur d’Alene Dutch Bros. Coffee stand, 1680 Northwest Blvd., is slated to open today.

Franchisee Jackson Hite opened the first Dutch Bros. on West Hanley Avenue last November.

The new stand will serve free drinks from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. today, according to a news release.

This is Parker Howell’s last edition of Here’s the Dirt. Today is his final day at The Spokesman-Review. Howell was laid off as part of the company’s downsizing.

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