The historic pedestrian arcade in the old Crescent building used to shuttle walkers through the heart of what was once the city’s premier department store, down a long gallery filled with window displays and individual shops on either side.
The arcade, built in 1919, was walled off decades ago but it’s coming back – as the dining hall of the Spokane Central Market.
As the city’s first modern food hall takes shape in the building, which is connected to the adjacent 1990s-era Sterling Savings Bank building at Riverside Avenue and Wall Street, people will once again be able to stroll down the historic, nearly 100-year-old indoor walkway.
Renovation is underway, and interior demolition is stripping away false walls and low ceilings, returning the building to something close to what it was when the Crescent first opened.
“The idea is to make it feel like it could’ve been done a hundred years ago,” said Rob Brewster, president of InterUrban Development, one of the companies building the food hall. “We’re putting a big emphasis on this being a communal space.”
After entering the market’s main entrance on Riverside, visitors to the market will be greeted on both sides by shops selling products like tacos, burgers, ramen, flowers, screen prints, fresh produce and deli meat. In the center of the blocklong arcade, long tables will be shared by diners and shoppers alike. As they keep walking north, by the interior hanging clock and escalators, they’ll exit on Main, facing the Apple Store across the street.
On Thursday morning, about 40 people were given a tour of the future food hall, which is being developed by Colorado-based Confluent Development, a real estate company, and InterUrban Development, Brewster’s company out of Seattle.
Potential vendors, bankers and other developers grabbed a cup of free coffee in the building’s lobby and perused poster boards showing the hall’s proposed layout and illustrated renderings of its future.
After donning a hardhat and high-visibility safety vest, groups of 10 were led through the building’s confines by Brewster, a native of Spokane.
Brewster, whose other notable Spokane project is the planned redevelopment of the historic McKinley School just off East Sprague Avenue, began the tour by lamenting the loss of the old Marble Bank, which was torn down in 1953 and eventually replaced by the Sterling Savings Bank building.
“They took that down, not so wisely, to build this one,” he said, adding a bit derisively that the bank building that was affixed to the Crescent’s corner was “a ’90s bank designed to look like an ’80s bank.”
But Brewster painted a clear future for the building: raising of the ceilings, removal of the columns and fake mahogany paneling, peeling plaster off the old brick. Just generally opening the space up.
Demolition should be done in two weeks, and the food hall is expected to be open sometime this summer. About 20 potential vendors have signaled interest to Brewster, many of which have signed letters of intent.
Plans filed with the city show up to 14 spaces for tenants.
Brewster said the food hall will be nothing like the more well-known food courts, which he described as “all about fast food, everything lined up, boring.” Instead, the hall will serve local or regionally produced food from independent vendors.
“We’re taking ideas,” he said, inspiring a woman to yell, “A bakery!”
The tour thinned its ranks and moved up to the third floor, which is close to being leased, but Brewster wouldn’t share the name of the company. The fourth floor also is being renovated but will remain office space.
The top floor of the building has a strange layout and rooftop deck. Brewster said he could see a bar there, and the room in the top of the clock tower may have promise as a small dining area.
But the focus of the day was on the ground floor, which is within a mile of 33,000 employees and residents, according to the companies developing the market.
“This is really dead center,” Brewster said of the market. “Right in the center of it all.”
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