Spokane Indians baseball team owner Bobby Brett and investor Chris Batten have purchased the historic Dutch’s building at 415 W. Main. The partners say they plan to restore the early 20th-century building and fill it with retail tenants.
The sale is bittersweet for former owners Mary Singer and Rick Singer, her brother-in-law. The building has belonged to the Singer family since the 1960s. That was when Rick’s father relocated Dutch’s Pawnshop from another store on the same block.
The Singers recently decided to sell it following the death earlier this year of Mary Singer’s husband, Gary Singer. He was 66.
The sale price was $479,000. The three-level building has about 9,900 square feet.
“I’m happy that Bobby Brett wants to restore the building,” Mary Singer said. “He’s got a good plan for it.”
Rick Singer, who runs a photography studio on the building’s upper levels, will remain in the building with a 10-year lease.
Dutch’s Inc. operated as a pawnshop and music instrument store on West Main since 1915. After Gary Singer’s death, company employees sold the inventory and cleared out furnishings and leftovers.
“I think it’s a great building with a storied history,” Brett said. His sports company also owns the Spokane Chiefs hockey team. Brett has acquired a number of area properties as investments.
He’s collected historical photos of the building from the early 20th century that document how part of the building hosted a basement speakeasy during Prohibition and later became a popular saloon and card room.
The building owner in the 1920s was Jimmie Durkin, a colorful 20th-century Spokane businessman. The Durkin Ulrich card room, incidentally, was partly owned by Bill Ulrich, who in the 1930s was one of the owners of the Spokane Indians ball club, Brett said.
A factor in Brett and Batten’s decision to buy is the plan by Spokane hotelier Walt Worthy to build a 15-floor convention center hotel nearby.
But even without that project, Brett said he would have looked seriously at buying the property.
After restoring the building Batten and Brett plan to lease the main level to a retail tenant.
“I’m pretty sure once we tear off the false ceilings we’ll find a really great building,” Brett said. “We’ll make it as close to its historic nature as we can.”