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Code violations close Muzzy Mansion to lodgers

Wed., June 9, 2010, midnight

Muzzy Mansion owners didn’t get building permits or a certificate of occupancy when converting the home to a bed and breakfast.  (CHRISTOHER ANDERSON)
Muzzy Mansion owners didn’t get building permits or a certificate of occupancy when converting the home to a bed and breakfast. (CHRISTOHER ANDERSON)

Owners failed to obtain permits for renovation

The historic Muzzy Mansion Bed and Breakfast on Spokane’s North Side has been ordered to close because the owners failed to comply with city codes in converting the residential structure to a lodging facility.

The order was issued May 28, owners Mike Schultz and Steven Sanford said in a letter to Spokane Mayor Mary Verner.

Now the owners are trying to work with city officials to resolve violations cited by the city, including not having a certificate of occupancy.

The owners acknowledged failing to obtain permits during extensive renovation.

“But we don’t think that’s cause to condemn our home and evict us,” the owners said in the letter dated May 31.

Fire Marshal Lisa Jones said the owners can continue living there for now. They just cannot have paying guests.

Schultz and Sanford said they have made a substantial investment in the conversion of the former apartment house at 1506 W. Mission Ave.

“But allow us to be candid in stating that we’re now feeling railroaded by the city of Spokane into financial ruin and homelessness. We don’t believe the gravity of the problem warrants this,” the letter said.

Last year, the home was placed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places after the owners spent nearly three years working on it.

The 1889 Queen Anne Victorian was the jewel of homesteader Hiram Newton Muzzy, who came to Spokane in 1880 and settled on 160 acres northwest of Mission Avenue and Cedar Street, which he subsequently platted for homes.

Schultz and Sanford removed apartment partitions; rebuilt an elegant oak staircase; restored the upstairs landing; hired a craftsman to re-create the banisters; uncovered the original front door that had been nailed over; built a new kitchen with period cabinetry; and installed a modern bath upstairs.

In doing so, they failed to obtain building permits for plumbing and electrical work, which the city said it requires.

In February, a city building official notified them they were out of compliance.

Schultz and Sanford argued that they had obtained city and state business licenses, a health permit and a tax number, and were offering just one guest room initially.

Jones, who has been involved in the case, said the owners should have gone to the building department from the start to obtain a permit for change of use and a certificate of occupancy.

“It should have been their first step,” she said.

Jones said various city officials and the owners are going to try to find solutions to the problem.

The owners are considering an application for a congregate living facility, a use category that would allow them to avoid a costly sprinkler installation required under an updated international fire code, Jones said.

She said the public has a right to expect that safety requirements are met inside a bed and breakfast.

“It is super unfortunate,” she said. “We want to work with them and get them open as soon as possible.”

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