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Those folks who battled to save the old and historic Jensen Byrd Building had their main victory last month when Campus Advantage decided to fold up and dropped plans to tear the building down. The company had signed an agreement in late 2010 with WSU to tear down the brick building and replace it with a multistory campus housing structure.
This week the next shoe fell, even though few "heard" the impact.
On Tuesday the City of Spokane officially concluded the process of revoking the demolition permit that had been issued to a demo firm hired by Texas-based Campus Advantage. The initial plans to tear down the building might have started as early as this past summer if opponents hadn't filed appeals challenging the validity of the demo permit.
The revocation at this point is mostly a symbolic moment; since Campus Advantage had already backed out of the deal.
But there was still some time left for the parties involved, including WSU, to appeal the city's permit revocation. That deadline for the revocation appeal was Oct. 10.
In any event, the status of the old warehouse building near downtown is this: WSU still owns it. WSU has the right to sell it to anyone, and even decide to demolish it if it wants to (with some conditions attached).
As of last month, WSU's position was holding pat and waiting. Spokane developer Ron Wells has continued trying to convince WSU officials that he has a viable development plan, that would include commercial and residential units.
When we last left the Jensen-Byrd saga, the historical preservationists were forming a posse, trying to figure out a way to hijack the former downtown Spokane warehouse and hide it somewhere on the Palouse, to keep it from being torn down.
The Texas-based company that wants to tear it down, Campus Advantage, was trying to obtain the needed certificates to move forward with a slow-motion, brick-by-brick demolition. They intend to replace the JB with a modern student housing structure designed for the 21st century.
And how will it play out?
It appears it's going nowhere for now. A recent WSU Spokane Bulletin says the building (not yet deemed a historic building) is on life support for about a year. Barb Chamberlain, who works for WSU, is the author of the bulletin item saying the sale won't close until 2013, citing the WSU Real Estate Office.
Chamberlain said the original deal is being held up because of extended timelines to obtain permits.
If all the permits come together and Campus Advantage hasn't moved onto something else, the plan is to break ground next year and move students in in 2014. The goal, according to the buyer, is to house about 460 residents in the new building.
Spokane's City Council is likely next week to vote on a resolution about the Jensen-Byrd Building, being sold by WSU to a Texas firm, Campus Advantage.
The old building, once a central warehouse along the city's main rail yard, has become a cherished icon for historic preservation advocates. They view the plan by Campus Advantage to demolish the building as short-sighted.
Campus Advantage has said it has looked at restoring the building but has concluded the structure is not easily and affordably convertible to a modern student housing complex, which is the plan for the Jensen-Byrd.
While the council is free to pass any resolution it wants, it doesn't have final say on what happens. According to the city's laws, Campus Advantage can apply for a demolition permit if its shows it will build a similar building in the same spot.
The request by Campus Advantage to move forward with demolition would have to go through the city's building department.
The council's resolution, as currently worded, urges WSU and Campus Advantage to reconsider the plan and look for ways to either build a high-density student apartment complex elsewhere. Or review the demolition option.
@SR_Officehours is asking Twitter users to respond to the question: What do you think of the Jensen-Byrd building sale by WSU to a company that will tear the building down? We'd like to hear your comments or thoughts, in 140 characters or less.
Tweet messages or RTs, and the Tweetstream embedded here should collect all those messages. Thanks. If you can, use the hashtag #Jensen-Byrd
So, if you read some of the reader comments found on Thursday's Spokesman.com story about Campus Advantage tearing down the Jensen-Byrd building, you may have wondered how many jobs comes out of this development.
The story in a nutshell: many folks regard the 1909 Jensen-Byrd building a major piece of Spokane history. But WSU has agreed to sell it to the Texas company, who will tear it down and replace it with a five-story student apartment complext catering to Riverpoint Campus students and those from nearby Gonzaga University.
How many jobs will the Campus Advantage project create? Simple answer, not that many. Reader comments on Spokesman.com were all over the map on that question.
We can't say how many demolition and construction jobs will come from the effort; the Austin-based firm said it will rely on local contractors but it hasn't even closed the sale yet.
Longer-term, once it opens in fall 2013, the new building will likely hire about 5 fulltime and 5 part-time workers, said Campus Advantage Executive VP Scott Duckett.
The company that's buying the old 1909 Jensen-Byrd building in downtown Spokane has decided it will raze the structure rather than convert it.
Austin-based Campus Advantage paid $2.85 million to Washington State University for the buidling, which is roughly 136,000 square feet on land on the east end of downtown Spokane.