April 23, 2010 in Business

Kendall Yards gets new life

Developer says first units should be ready this summer
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photo

From left, Mark Bitz, Jason Wheaton, president of Greenstone Corp., Josh Schluter and Jim Frank, owner and founder of Greenstone Corp. hoist a spruce tree into its new planting spot during a ceremony to announce first-phase construction and unveil plans for two styles of townhouses and single-family homes at the corner of Bridge and Oak in Spokane.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

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Greenstone Corp. on Thursday revived the Kendall Yards development on the north bank of the Spokane River.

The first 18 units of the $25 million residential and commercial project should be ready by the end of summer, Greenstone founder Jim Frank told a crowd of more than 100 gathered on the site between Bridge and Ohio avenues.

He said construction of more Phase 1 units will begin when the project’s main street, Summit Parkway, is ready.

Four of the units have been pre-sold, and the buyers were enthusiastic about their future homes and the proximity to downtown.

“The developers have really done their homework,” said Gene Decheff, who with wife Cheryl will move into a two-bedroom townhouse, a radical downsizing from their 10 acres on the West Plains.

Piper Peterson, whose unit will bookend that of the Decheffs’, said she liked the access to the Centennial Trail, and the biking and walking access it will provide to downtown.

The first 18 buyers will get bicycles, Greenstone President Jason Wheaton said.

A Peterson friend and neighbor-to-be Kathleen Greiner, who works at the Spokane County Courthouse, walked to the site in 10 minutes, wearing heels.

West Central Neighborhood residents who attended said they looked forward to the project, the successor to a railroad yard demolished in the 1970s.

“We’re glad somebody is finally going to get the project off the ground,” said Michele Malone, who lives nearby.

David DeGraff owns a home across Bridge from site.

“It will be a great addition to this area,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for many years.”

Development of the 78-acre property stalled under two previous owners. Greenstone Corp. bought the property in November, and announced plans for a less dense, less expensive development that will eventually include about 1,000 homes, plus retail outlets. Townhouse prices start at $119,990, single-family homes at $149,990.

“The key is that you provide product that is affordable for people in Spokane,” Frank said.

Phase 1 will include a 40-unit multifamily housing structure, 68 townhouses and single-family homes, and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner called the project a “gift” that will be an economic driver for the community. The city, she added, is willing to work with all developers.

Avista renovating headquarters

Avista Corp. is working its way through an $18.3 million, five-year renovation of its Mission Street headquarters, a project driven by the need to replace cooling and heating equipment that dates to the building’s construction in 1956.

Because the original, centrally controlled systems cannot be adjusted for time of day use, its fans and heat-exchangers have run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for more than 50 years, said project manager Rod Staton.

Although a three-person crew has kept the systems running without a catastrophic failure, replacement is long overdue, he said, adding that the work has been put on, and taken off, Avista’s capital investment schedule for more than 20 years.

Staton said crews are gutting the building floor-by-floor to strip out asbestos once commonly used to protect pipes and girders. Displaced workers are shifted to other floors, a transition made easier by the relocation of the utility’s call center to the former Horizon Credit Union building in Spokane Valley.

The renovation project began on the fifth floor last year, he said, and will conclude with the basement in 2013.

When completed, the new systems will save 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, trimming $149,000 off Avista’s own annual utility bills, said spokeswoman Laurine Jue.

The energy saved could supply 116 homes, she said.

Jue said ratepayers will be asked to cover the costs, as they would any capital expenditure. But, she said, “We squeezed every last ounce of life cycle out of that equipment.”

The investment will reduce operating costs, she added.

Stove distributor leases in Valley

Bosca USA Inc. is leasing about 4,000 square feet in building No. 3 of the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, 3808 N. Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley.

The company is a distributor of wood and pellet stoves and provides warranty service.

Ethiopian restaurant coming to Flour Mill

Queen of Sheba, a downtown Spokane restaurant focusing on Ethiopian cuisine, will open for business May 2, Bloomsday.

Owner Almaz Ainuu is moving into a vacant space on the main floor of the Flour Mill, at 621 W. Mallon. Ainuu is from Ethiopia.

The restaurant will be open six days a week to start; it will be closed Mondays.

Lunches will be served 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with dinner from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Staff writer Tom Sowa contributed to this report. Here’s the Dirt is a weekly report on new developments and business openings, closings or movement in the Inland Northwest. E-mail business@spokesman.com or call (509) 459-5528.


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