Jensen-Byrd buyer backs out of deal
Demolition plan faced opposition from preservation advocates
Public outcry and a web of permitting issues have led a Texas company to withdraw its offer to buy and demolish the historic Jensen-Byrd and replace it with student housing.
Campus Advantage Inc. had agreed to buy the 103-year-old building on Spokane’s Riverpoint Campus for $2.85 million from Washington State University.
The Austin-based company planned to tear down the building and start from scratch. Before it could obtain a permit, however, Spokane Preservation Advocates filed an appeal to save the six-floor historic warehouse. Washington State University spokesman Doug Nadvornick confirmed Monday that Campus Advantage had pulled out of the deal.
“That’s great news,” said Ro Lisk of Spokane Preservation Advocates. The nonprofit wrote to WSU “expressing how strongly we were against the demolition of the building. It took a long time for us to get a response, and we were denied.”
With limited funds, the decision to hire an attorney was tough, Lisk said. “But we went for it.”
Coincidentally, Spokane developer Ron Wells made a new offer – not his first – on the building Monday, and deposited $100,000 earnest money.
“But that hasn’t made it to the owners yet,” Wells said.
“It’s the same price I offered in October 2011, which is $2.85 million, which is the same price Campus Advantage offered,” he added. “I’ve made three different offers. Last time they (WSU) said the Texas company was going to cash them out and they didn’t want to wait for us to get the financing together.”
Sources close to the project, though, say WSU doesn’t plan to put the building back on the market.
Wells has been working on a design for the building for about six years. He keeps making offers even though WSU has rejected his proposals twice.
His plans include two-bedroom apartments on all five floors. If there’s a demand for student housing, those apartments could be equipped to accommodate up to 330 students.
“We think it’s a great historic opportunity,” Wells said. “It’s a beautiful building, it just needs an overhaul. Two-thirds of the apartments would have great views and views of the river.”