April 5, 2011 in City, Column
City gives Ridpath owners deadline to clean, comply
Those involved express willingness to address issues
City building officials issued a series of demands Tuesday to the numerous owners of the former Ridpath Hotel complex to clean up and make safe the deteriorating Spokane landmark.
Deputy building official Dan Skindzier gave the owners of nine divided parts of the Ridpath and a neighboring building at Stevens Street and First Avenue 45 days to stop all unauthorized access into the building, board over holes in floors, remove debris inside the structures, begin cleaning up graffiti on a weekly basis and comply with fire code.
City officials walked through the complex last week after receiving complaints about squatters, vandalism and other problems. Although some issues have been fixed, many remain, said Heather Trautman, code enforcement supervisor. All the owners of the building were represented in person or on the phone at Tuesday’s hearing at Spokane City Hall. A meeting May 26 will chart progress on the problems.
Spokane Fire Marshal Lisa Jones said because the hotel remains furnished, fire suppression systems must be maintained. Owners have not filed mandatory annual reports about the fire alarms and sprinkler systems and it’s unclear if they’re working in portions of the 15-story tower, she said.
The most challenging request wasn’t about improving the building. Skindzier asked them to agree on one point person for the complex.
“Someone has gone through the effort of parceling out the building, and we’re hopeful that the property owners can work together to come up with one or more local contacts that can be readily available for emergencies,” Skindzier said.
The building was divided up in the height of Spokane’s condo craze, but most the ideas for development never took off and the hotel closed. Only a restaurant remains open. The divided ownership has become a major detriment to the complex as owners have become embroiled in lawsuits.
Mickey Brown, who owns a portion of the adjacent building at Stevens and First, apologized for “ongoing blight in our fair city of Spokane.”
All the owners and representatives who spoke Tuesday expressed willingness to comply with city demands – though there was doubt that a single point person could be named. Skindzier indicated that the city may be willing to work with multiple representatives.