November 20, 2013

Spokane Convention Center hotel groundwork underway

Tom Sowa
The Spokesman-Review
 

The hotel project taking place across the street from the Spokane Convention Center is well underway, as seen Tuesday. Excavation is mostly complete and walls are taking shape.

Construction crews have dug a 12-foot-deep hole across an entire city block south of the Spokane Convention Center, laying the foundation and footings for what will be Spokane’s largest hotel.

The 15-floor, 720-room hotel project is estimated to cost roughly $50 million.

Building the hotel is the Davenport Hotel Collection, the Spokane company owned by Karen and Walt Worthy. After buying the empty block between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main Avenue for $6.67 million, the Worthys started work on the project in mid-August.

The Spokane Public Facilities District will cover the cost of a skywalk that will connect the hotel to the Convention Center. Final approval of the skywalk design is expected within three weeks, Davenport Hotel Collection spokesman Matt Jensen said.

Here’s the latest artist’s rendering of the new hotel (story continues below).

The public facilities district is also paying $500,000 toward the cost of ground remediation.

The hotel is expected to open in 2015. Jensen said the hotel company has booked its first scheduled event, a July 2016 convention by the Health Physics Society. The 5,000-member organization represents radiation safety workers nationwide.

That advance booking occurred, Jensen said, due to the efforts of Visit Spokane’s Washington, D.C., representative, Karen Staples.

That July 2016 convention will take rooms in the new hotel as well as in the nearby DoubleTree Hotel, Jensen said.

In the next month, the Worthys expect to announce a brand relationship with a major U.S. hotel company such as Hilton Hotels or Marriott. Such an affiliation will help the Spokane hotel benefit from the national company’s marketing and bookings network.

In addition to 120,000 square feet of rooms, facilities and meeting areas, the project includes a 900-space parking garage. The Worthys will own 600 spaces while the PFD will collect revenue on the other 300 spaces.

The construction eliminated several hundred surface parking spots near the INB Performing Arts Center, the Convention Center and nearby businesses. That change has created a major disruption for those attending events or shopping in that part of town, said Chris O’Harra, owner of Auntie’s Bookstore just west of where the hotel will open.

Nevertheless, she said, “I’m excited about this. It’s a major project, and it’s going to bring a lot of people to this side of town.”

The disruption might keep some holiday shoppers from visiting that side of town, O’Harra said.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us, but we’ll do what we can to stay alive until it opens,” she said.