A pair of Spokane doctors seems an unlikely development team for an edgy, industrial condo project under way in the city’s up-and-coming U-District.
“We’re physicians — we haven’t ever even flipped a house,” says Dr. Andrew Chester, an internist who, along with his oncologist wife Dr. Kawal Chester, is developing the Iron Bridge condos along the Spokane River.
“We don’t even paint,” jokes Kawal, who is currently managing the project full time.
But what the couple lack in real estate and development experience, they more than make up for in vision—ultra-modern waterfront lofts in a serene, urban setting just blocks from Gonzaga and the heart of Spokane’s burgeoning downtown core.
Named for the picturesque iron railroad truss that will connect the development to the Centennial Trail, the Iron Bridge Condos offer single- and two-story loft shells priced from $284,500. Designed with the help of Spokane architect Patsy O’Connor and built by general contractor Baker Construction, the units will feature steel and wooden beams, exposed brick walls, concrete floors, and huge windows overlooking the riverfront.
“From inside, it literally feels like you’re on a boat,” Andrew says.
Although the Spokane Valley couple wasn’t looking for a condo project when they opted to invest in commercial real estate, “It found us,” Kawal says, adding that they considered apartments, strip malls and other ventures before a Realtor suggested the old commercial warehouse as a potential loft development.
That was 2 ½ years ago. Today, with the Iron Bridge nearing completion, the couple says their foray into real estate development has been a learning experience, albeit a positive one. And while the project has had its ups and downs, the Chesters’ enthusiasm for their unique industrial space and its lush setting is palpable.
“This was our opportunity to put our stamp, our style on something,” says Andrew, who describes the couple’s design sensibility as edgy-modern with an urban or industrial feel.
Kawal adds the couple is relishing the opportunity to take an older commercial building – a 1913 structure that most recently housed Sunrise Wood Products, Inc. – and return it, in part, to nature.
“There’s a little bit of altruistic motivation,” Kawal says. “Preserving an old building and reclaiming the waterfront.”
“To recycle a building is the greenest thing you can do,” he says.
The Iron Bridge is slated to open this fall, with five of the 12 units currently reserved.
The couple plan to keep one of the lofts for their future retirement, leasing the unit until their two young daughters are in college.
Although the Chesters don’t expect to reap huge profits from their fledgling real estate investment, they seem undaunted by the prospect of pursuing another commercial venture.
“I eye warehouses constantly now,” Kawal says.
“If we have any money left after this, we may do something else,” Andrew adds. “We’ll definitely be looking around.”
Kawal laughs: “Yeah, after Andrew’s finished his Prilosec.”
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