April 3, 2012 in City

City calls for Ridpath closure

No-occupy order at former hotel includes parking garage
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The Ridpath Hotel is seen from the Bank of America Center on March 6.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

The last moneymaking venture inside the former Ridpath Hotel in downtown Spokane has been ordered to close.

The city of Spokane announced Monday that, starting this week, it will enforce a “no-occupy order” for the Ridpath, including on Diamond Parking, which operates parking in the hotel’s garage in the lower levels of the building. Jersey barriers will be placed by the city in front of the garage this week, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

After the hotel closed in 2008, the complex was sold off in pieces. The downturn in the economy coupled with the complicated ownership structure of the building resulted in disputes over owners’ rights to utilities, access and other issues, and in foreclosures and multiple lawsuits.

The city declared the building uninhabitable in December and warned owners in a letter dated March 5 that it would begin enforcing the order April 1. Building officials and fire marshals have been dealing with code violations at the building for more than a year. Problems have included graffiti and multiple break-ins. The city’s current main concern is fire code violations.

“We are aware of the challenges in regards to the ownerships of the building, but those challenges do not outweigh the responsibility of the city to safeguard the citizens, emergency response personnel and property that may be affected,” said Dan Skindzier, the city’s deputy building official in the letter to hotel owners and Diamond Parking on March 5.

Stephen Antonietti, a representative of Integrated Financial Associates, the Las Vegas firm that owns most of the Ridpath including the parking garage, said there are 62 spaces in the garage. Diamond has arranged for customers who pay for long-term parking to park elsewhere starting today, he said.

He said attorneys for Integrated Financial Associates were working Monday to prevent the city from erecting barriers. He said barriers are unnecessary because he plans to block the garage with two 8-foot fences.

“They’re not making a statement to the owners,” Antonietti said. “They’re making a statement to the public.”

Antonietti said smoke sensors have been fixed and the stand pipe, which provides water to each floor for firefighters to use in the case of fire, also is operational. The largest problem left to fix with the fire system is the requirement to replace sprinkler heads that have been painted, he said.

An application for a permit to finish sprinkler work was submitted to the Fire Department late last week, Antonietti said. But he’s concerned that other owners could hold up the removal of the city’s order by not fixing fire systems in other parts of the building.

Grant Person, who co-owns the Ridpath’s former first-floor coffee shop along with Gregory Jeffreys, said work has been scheduled to fix the sprinkler system in his part of the building. Person said the city’s order appeared to be aimed at Integrated Financial Associates.

“The biggest problem they’ve had is getting a response out of the folks from Las Vegas,” Person said.


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