The city of Spokane is talking with the owners of the derelict Trade Winds Motor Inn about a property swap, with the intention of tearing down the motel to create a more appealing entrance to the city center.
Once a fashionable motel, built when the country loved Tiki-style architecture, the Trade Winds in recent years became a rent-by-the-month apartment complex for Spokane’s hard-luck crowd.
What happens to the former 60-room Trade Winds building depends on its current owners, Mark Pinch and Dave Black, who bought it with several partners for $456,000 in 1998.
Pinch and Black never operated the motel, located at the corner of West Third Avenue and South Lincoln Street. For the building’s entire 50-year history, it’s been operated by Spokane’s Lackman family.
Henry Lackman, the original operator, built the Trade Winds in 1962 on property leased from the Brotherhood of Friends, which also owned the BOF building at the end of the block. The BOF later sold its own building to Dan Overhauser several years after selling the Trade Winds building.
Lackman’s family ran it as a motel until the mid-1990s, when economics forced them to rent units to people looking for cheap downtown housing.
Henry Lackman died in 2010 at age 91. His son, Hal Lackman, kept the Trade Winds going until the 50-year lease expired in December.
After locking the doors and securing the windows, Black and Pinch hauled away five Dumpsters full of items and old furniture from the building.
Pinch and Black, who are brokers with NAI Black realty company as well as developers, say they’re reviewing their options for the building.
Black said the best use would be to remodel it.
“I think it can be profitable and operate as a budget hotel,” he said, adding, “it’s within walking distance of the heart of downtown.”
City officials, however, say its corner location has a negative visual impact on travelers entering the city from the Lincoln freeway exit. That corner is one of several eyesore locations the city wants to spruce up, said Jan Quintrall, the city’s director of business and developer services.
Quintrall said she’s asked Black and Pinch to take undeveloped city-owned land in trade for the Trade Winds. The city is not interested in buying the motel, she said.
If a property swap happens, the city would tear down the Trade Winds and replace it with an open block and a small downtown visitor center with green space, Quintrall said. The city would ask the Convention and Visitors Bureau to operate the center.
Quintrall said Yakima did something similar, creating an attractive downtown center that includes a wine-tasting room as a way to attract visitors.
“A lot of people grab a rental car at the airport and drive straight through to Coeur d’Alene. We need to give people a destination so they can come downtown more often,” she said.
Pinch and Black said they’re amenable to a trade, but they haven’t found a site that fits their needs.
“We like the idea of a trade,” Pinch said.
The owners and the city want an appraisal done, and that should happen within a month, Black said.
Katrina Yarbrough is pulling for the city of Spokane to tear down the building.
She’s an employee at Advanced Hearing Center in the downtown Brotherhood of Friends building at Monroe Street and Third Avenue.
“When the Trade Winds closed (in November), the people in this office felt like having a party,” Yarbrough said.
She and her co-workers sometimes had strained encounters with Trade Winds residents looking for handouts or a job, she said.
“If the city’s trying to tear it down, I support the city,” Yarbrough said.
Black, who’s done numerous private developments in the area, said he has no idea what the Trade Winds is worth.
The Trade Winds Motor Inn opened in summer 1962 to a tidal wave of publicity and public approval.
Henry Lackman told reporters he spent more than $500,000 to build the 60-room, four-story motel, situated one block north of the route of the planned Interstate 90. Though I-90 connected Coeur d’Alene with Liberty Lake in 1956, the downtown viaduct of the interstate wasn’t finished until 1967, according to records kept by the Washington state Department of Transportation.
The Trade Winds’ rooms were “extra spacious” compared to other local motels, media reports said. Reporters also noted it had a 38-foot swimming pool and 25-space underground garage.
On July 20 that year, about 4,000 residents visited the Trade Winds during its official grand opening.
The building is not on any historic register. Because it’s 50 years old, a demolition permit application could trigger a public hearing to determine if the owner would need to meet preservation guidelines before moving forward.
In recent years the Lackman family found it was too expensive to maintain the building. The elevator stopped working several years ago. The outdoor pool has been closed for years.
“At that point Hal (Lackman) decided to not fix stuff,” Black said. “He decided he would not put any more money into it.”