Nearing age 37, Bloomsday is getting more organized.
Since forming as a nonprofit to produce the annual Spokane race, the Lilac Bloomsday Association has needed at least two buildings to manage staff and equipment.
Last year the group bought land and started building a new office in the West Central neighborhood, near Sinto Avenue and Belt Street.
On Tuesday the new building was the site of the Bloomsday kickoff press conference.
“It will really help to have one place for all our people, our stuff, all the equipment and computers we use to process race results,” race director Don Kardong said.
For the past 18 years the group worked inside an office building on Riverside Avenue west of downtown. That building lacked room and adequate parking for volunteers and staff.
The group also used a warehouse on West Broadway Avenue to store shirts, signs and equipment needed to prepare for the annual 7.5-mile race.
The new 13,000-square-foot Bloomsday building has meeting rooms, storage areas, space to set up data systems and a second-level space that will serve as the event’s archives.
The previous office was on the Bloomsday route. The new one isn’t, but Kardong said it’s near enough to catch a view of runners and walkers as they reach the top of Doomsday Hill.
It cost the group roughly $125,000 to buy the land on Belt and then tear down a vacant commercial building. The building, damaged in a 2004 fire, formerly was used as a cab company dispatch office.
The former Bloomsday warehouse at 1859 W. Broadway Ave. has already been sold to a Spokane business owner, who paid $110,000.
“We thought that one would be harder to sell, and that the Riverside office would go a lot faster,” Kardong said. “It’s just the opposite. For some reason we haven’t found a good offer yet on the office building.”
That building is listed for $395,000.
Kardong said Bloomsday was fortunate to work with Spokane architect Ron LaBar, who designed the new building, and project manager Chad McDonald.
Bloomsday didn’t pick the two men because of their connection to the annual race, but Kardong later learned they both are avid runners. Last year, LaBar and McDonald also participated as teammates in the annual 128-mile Spokane to Sandpoint road race.
McDonald, a project manager with Spokane’s Pro Builders company, said he wanted to add a few decorative touches to make the building feel warmer.
He asked his cousin, Jessica Klier, to design several short steel panels with cutout shapes of runners and the words “Run” and “Spokane.” He fastened those panels to the street-facing edges of the steel canopies that hang about 6 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the westside exterior wall.
When the sun shines from the west, the cutouts produce silhouetted shadows on the building wall.
“We thought that would be cool,” McDonald said about the effect. “But it is definitely an afternoon effect, if the sun is shining.”