Bobby Brett, owner of the Spokane Indians baseball team and Spokane Chiefs hockey team, and investor Chris Batten have purchased the historic Dutch’s building at 415 W. Main Ave. 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.
They decided to sell it following the death of Mary Singer’s husband, Gary Singer. He was 66. His grandfather started the original Dutch’s business on the same block nearly 100 years ago.
The sale price was $479,000.
“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. had operated as a pawnshop and music instrument store for decades, but the business closed this fall after Gary Singer’s death in February. Employees in recent weeks sold the inventory and cleared out furnishings and leftovers.
“I think it’s a great building with a storied history,” said Brett, who 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 served as a popular hangout and card room called the Durkin and Ulrich Saloon. Bill Ulrich at that point was co-owner of the Spokane Indians, said Brett.
A factor in Brett and Batten’s decision to buy is Spokane hotelier Walt Worthy’s plan 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.”