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Focus 21 To Launch $5 Million Fund-Raising Campaign On Thursday

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revi

Hundreds of business, government and community leaders will kick off a $5 million campaign Thursday to finance a new five-year program of economic expansion in Spokane.

Up to 500 are expected to attend a breakfast of Focus 21, described as “a regional growth strategy for the 21st Century,” at the Red Lion Spokane Valley.

Focus 21 is an offshoot of the business-financed Momentum movement, which spurred economic development in Spokane for the past 10 years and is now in the process of dissolving.

During the past week, leaders of Focus 21 have held a series of small-group briefings on the mission and goals of the organization. They include creating 10,000 new and higher paying jobs by 2001.

A substantial number of major financial pledges already have been received, reportedly approaching $2 million.

Activity picking up downtown

Things are poppin’ in downtown Spokane.

The 15-story Washington Trust Financial Center tower is being extensively reconfigured at a cost of millions.

A half-dozen street-floor tenants either relocated or quietly closed up shop in recent months, making way for full-scale remodeling of the first three levels.

Just one tenant will stay, Domini’s sandwiches. The balance of the newly redesigned space will be absorbed by Washington Trust Bank.

Domini’s will remain in place and expand into adjacent quarters at the southwest corner of Sprague and Post formerly occupied by Northwest Airlines. That expansion should be completed by April, says Al Domini, who has operated a sandwich shop in that block going on 35 years.

Domini’s was a tenant 11 years before the old Washington Trust Bank building was torn down to make way for construction of the new financial tower in 1974.

Meantime, another original tenant of the financial tower, Northwest Airlines, cleared out over the weekend.

“We’ve been here since the building opened in 1974,” Joanne Tunnyhill told me last Friday, “and we’re closing in 40 minutes.”

The airline ticket office reopened yesterday a couple blocks away on the ground floor of the Washington Mutual Bank Building, in the 100 block of North Wall.

A block east of the Washington Trust Financial Center tower, the Symmons Block, a turn of the century, four-story, brick-and-terrra cotta, architectural landmark is undergoing a transformation. In the works are new windows and a new front stretching half a block on Sprague and a full block on Howard.

Behind the scenes, upstairs corridors have been upgraded with new carpeting, woodwork and doors.

At street level, the building sports two new tenants.

The Lorinda Knight Gallery, 523 W. Sprague, is a contemporary art gallery. The gallery - a two-story box with white walls, a maplewood floor, and a couple of nondescript chairs - is what she calls “minimalist space.” That renders it ideal to exhibit an ever-changing lineup of art works in one-person shows, which Knight says is a new concept in Spokane.

Knight, a former interior designer with ALSC Architects in Spokane, later taught at Washington State University before opening the gallery. She carries a limited inventory of works by about 20 artists whom she can draw upon at any time.

A month-long show of mixed-media works in paper, stone and wood by artist Wendy Franklund Miller wound up Saturday. Chris Burgeon, impressionist painter of regional landscapes, opens a show Friday that runs to March 1.

On another corner of the block, Leonardo’s Bistro has replaced Yogurt Delight at First and Wall.

The family-owned restaurant, operated by Carmen and Leonard Felice, bills itself as the “Home of the Black Bean Soup and Rotisserie Meat Sandwiches.”

“We are from Venezuela and this is international food,” she says. “But the big thing is black beans.” In addition, they feature gourmet salads and frozen yogurt - non-fat.

Ernst went out with a bang

“ALL MERCHANDISE 60 TO 80 PERCENT OFF,” said the signs at Ernst stores in Spokane the weekend before last.


It looked too good to be true. As soon as I entered the bankrupt 103-year-old chain’s South Hill store, employees started changing prices - lower. And lower.

A small flock of sparrows, from up in the rafters I guess, hopped and flitted about, picking through the debris and saying, “Cheap, cheap, cheap.”

My wife kept taking stuff out of my cart and putting it back. By the time I got to the cash register, everything was 95 percent off.

I got a long metal tool that you step on to dig dandelions out of your lawn. Plus a slew of other good stuff. “You’re trying every way you can to spend money - aren’t you?” said my cashier, Pam, who is going to a job with an insurance company.

It all came to $3.19.

Jim Ford, who supervised the liquidation, told me this week all 53 Ernst stores are sold out. “In the final hours,” he said, “we charged $20 a shopping cart for anything and everything you could pile into one basket.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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