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Work starts on theater complex

Thu., April 9, 2009

Developers plan hotel next to cinemas

Spokane-based Vandervert Construction has started work on a $6 million, 10-screen theater complex just east of the city of Airway Heights with plans to build a $7.2 million hotel nearby.

Both projects would sit on land currently under the jurisdiction of the county, but in a zone proposed for annexation by the city of Airway Heights.

Village Centre Cinemas Airway Heights, set to open in late fall, will be a 33,000-square-foot complex located at the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 2 and Deer Heights Road.

K. Duane Brelsford, president of Pullman’s Corporate Pointe Developers LLC, said the project will be fashioned after Village Centre Cinemas at Wandermere in north Spokane, and will employ around 40 to 50 people.

Brelsford said individual theaters will range in size from 125 to 200 seats, and will include state-of-the-art sound systems and digital-projection systems with 3-D capability.

“Our goal, although it might be aggressive, is to catch the films coming out in November,” said Brelsford.

Since Cheney closed its two-screen theater four years ago, Brelsford said he sees little to choose from in the West Plains region. “It’s an area that deserves its own theater,” he said.

Brelsford’s company will manage the theater which was planned with Spokane developers Dick Vandervert and Lowell McKee under M.V. Investments II LLC.

Design West Architects PA of Pullman designed the complex to feature a rustic rock and wood beam exterior much like the Wandermere location, opened in 2006 by the same group.

Meanwhile, Seattle-based developer Surinder Khela, said he hopes to break ground this summer on a 44,000-square-foot, three-story hotel at the northeast corner of Flight Drive and Deer Heights Road, just east of the theater complex. Khela says the 79-room La Quinta Inn would employ eight to 10 people and feature an indoor pool, exercise room and meeting room.

Vandervert Developments owns the project site and Vandervert Construction is expected to be the contractor, while Khela’s Spokane LQ LLC would operate the hotel.

Jason Strain, development coordinator for Vandervert Developments, said the hotel project “isn’t a done deal yet” and they haven’t closed on the property. Khela credits the holdup to a wait for building permit approval and a delayed cash injection from other projects.

“Once I have those things in hand, we should be good to go,” Khela said, estimating that construction, once started, would take around 11 months to complete.

Both the hotel and theater will lie within a half-square mile zone which could eventually be annexed by Airway Heights. The land, commonly referred to as the Urban Growth Area, is still under review by Spokane County, the city of Spokane and the city of Airway Heights.

Dick Vandervert, who owns nearly 18 percent of the land in the UGA, has been pushing for annexation since a dispute with the county over a residential project development that was put on hold over zoning changes in the area.

Airway Heights Mayor Matthew Pederson said the three jurisdictions have been meeting on a weekly basis to discuss financial implications, services sharing and a timeline for moving forward.

“We’re looking at a possible public meeting toward the end of May where we can engage stakeholders and lay out how we hope to proceed, but that’s not been set in stone yet,” said Pederson.

Steve Davenport, a senior planner with the Spokane County, said most of the land that could be annexed is zoned as a light industrial area, which means that commercial projects shouldn’t be affected by potential changes in jurisdiction.

Reach correspondent Ryan Lancaster by e-mail at

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