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The No. 4 business story of the year in this area: downtown Spokane property purchases and renovations planned by local developers.
Earlier this week we published our choice for No. 5, the improvements and cleanup taking place at the former Kaiser Mead smelter.
We'll count down the final three and conclude the series on Dec. 31. We've extended the contest deadline to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27.
If you guess the No. 1 business story of the year, by suggesting it in a comment below, we'll give you a $10 coffee card.
Our No. 4 choice reflects the investments made by developers and companies buying several major old and crusty buildings. Those include the Hutton Building, acquired by STCU; the grand Spokane Masonic Center, acquired by an investment firm; the former Burgan's buildings, being converted into mixed use by developer Jerry Dicker near GU; and the acquisition of the former Civic Building downtown, by Inland Empire Foundation. (Pictured here, it was the original chamber of commerce building in the early 20th Century.)
You could also throw in the purchases of the Dutch's building downtown and the Sherwood Mall renovation going on by new owners.
As for your No. 1 choices, simply add them in comment form below. One submission per person. In case of ties we'll do a random drawing.
Spokane developer Jerry Dicker and his firm, GVD Commercial Properties, has purchased the former Ramada Express hotel at 123 S. Post St.
The GVD firm also operates the nearby Hotel Ruby at the Corner of First and Lincoln.
The sale price was $2.4 million, according to country assessor records.
Dicker has converted the 50-room downtown hotel into a Howard Johnson franchise. It will undergo a full remodel including new beds, carpets and furnishings. Dicker estimated that renovation will cost around $750,000. The outside will be repainted, as well.
“We’re doing this because we feel the building can be improved, and that we have the right hotel management people to run it,” Dicker said.
“We also think the new Howard Johnson hotel will complement what we’re doing at the Hotel Ruby,” he said.
The original hotel building at that address was constructed in 1959, according to Spokane County records. It was converted to a Ramada Inn in 1998.
Thursday's Connect Northwest morning session will feature GVD Commercial Properties President Jerry Dicker.
Dicker has gradually become one of Spokane's leading developers; his list of projects includes the Hotel Ruby, the Bing Theater, the former CompUSA building, the Interplayers Theater building and the Burgan Block LLC project, near Gonzaga University.
Registration is $30. Sign up at the Connect Northwest reservation link.
Dicker moved to Spokane in 2004, after working primarily in the Southwest and in California.
Yesterday we ran this same artist's rendering of the new proposed Burgan's Block project.
Here's the full daily Spokesman-Review story.
Bernardo-Wills Architects, of Spokane, is the architectural design team for the two-building project. It's expected to begin within 60 days.
The southern building — the former Burgan's storage warehouse — is considered part of the DeSmet Avenue Warehouse Historic District. Developer Jerry Dicker has said he is not seeking tax credits for maintaining either building's historic character.
Spokane developer Jerry Dicker has added the former CompUSA building to his firm’s list of downtown properties.
Dicker, the principal manager of Spokane-based GVD Commercial Properties, is paying roughly $3 million for the vacant 25,000-square-foot building, at 808 N. Ruby. The seller is the Lyons Family Trust, based in California. It’s been the owner since 1997; CompUSA leased it until the company declared bankruptcy in 2007.
Dicker said he has no immediate plans and is looking for a long-term tenant to lease the commercial building.
“We felt it is a good, strategic property for the long haul,” Dicker said.
Marshall Clark, of Clark Pacific Real Estate, brokered the sale of the building.
GVD is a partner or full owner of several downtown buildings, including the Spokane Interplayers theater building, the Bing Crosby Theater, the Red Lion River Inn, the Hotel Ruby and the Burgan’s building and adjoining warehouse.
For a fuller story, check back at Spokesman.com's business section.
These two you may have known about already.
- Trader Joe's will open Oct. 28 in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center. Good luck with parking that weekend. Smartly, TJ's knows it has to be open a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
- Title Nine, the fashionable outerwear and sports wear apparel company, recently opened a store on South Perry in the Perry Street District. A good company, with an interesting gamble on where it's set up its shop. See our earlier story.
And not least, the Sapphire Lounge, at the corner of Lincoln and First, will do a grand opening this weekend. This is the front-side intimate lounge-eatery attached to the Hotel Ruby, operated by Jerry Dicker and partners.
The lounge will do a soft opening tonight and Friday. Saturday is more or less a formal opening, according to Dicker. The lounge normally operates Wednesday-Saturday, with the option of reserving the space for functions the other days of the week.
Sante restaurateur Jeremy Hansen did not remain in the executive chef role. An earlier story from the SR described him as the architect behind the Sapphire Lounge menu. Dicker said they chose to go separate ways.
Paul Samson, the bar manager, will still be working the lounge, said Dicker.
Sometime in May, Spokane downtowners get to test out the Sapphire Lounge, a small-bite eatery set inside the new bar area of the Hotel Ruby, 901 W. First.
An item on the new lounge, being financed and managed by Ruby owner Jerry Dicker and executive chef Jeremy Hansen, ran last week in The Spokesman-Review.
That story summarizes the food and beverage plans of Hansen, who also is executive chef at popular Spokane restaurant Sante. Dicker also explains the goal of the Sapphire, being a way to add an intimate place for downtown visitors to grab a memorable bite and a stylish beverage.
Here is a photo showing the relatively tiny inside of the Sapphire Lounge. Mauer Construction, of Spokane, is the general contractor.
Total square footage is under 1,000 square feet. The kitchen is in the cramped, opposite corner from this point of view. The bar will be directly behind the half-height metal drywall studs.