The company that owns Anthony’s restaurant in downtown Spokane has submitted the highest bid to buy the city-owned building the restaurant occupies overlooking Spokane Falls.
But some Spokane City Council members say they remain open to considering the only other bid the city received for the land, a proposal from Lawrence B. Stone, who owns Spokane-based silo and steel stud manufacturer SCAFCO.
Mad Anthony’s Restaurants, which owns Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, bid $3.9 million for the property at 520 N. Post St. The Bellevue-based restaurant chain would maintain the triple A-frame structure on the site and make some improvements, including changes to viewing opportunities of the falls. In 2004, the company signed a 10-year, $10,000-a-month lease of the building with the city.
Stone purchased the adjacent former YWCA building in 2010 for $3.2 million. His proposal suggested he would combine that land with the Anthony’s parcel for a commercial and residential development and a restaurant.
Jan Quintrall, Spokane’s business and developer services director, said the Anthony’s bid was recommended by city administrators largely because it was the highest amount. Stone’s $3.6 million proposal is intriguing, but he didn’t submit a timeline and details of the project were vague, she said.
“I’d love to see some grandiose thing happen there,” Quintrall said. “But I also look at that $300,000 difference for it to sit vacant for I don’t know how long.”
She praised Stone for his work in the East Central Neighborhood. In 2009, Stone bid $2.1 million to buy 48 acres of the former Playfair horse track, where Stone is relocating portions of SCAFCO.
“We here at the city are huge Larry Stone fans,” Quintrall said.
Earlier this year, Mayor David Condon announced a renewed effort to sell land the city no longer needs.
Quintrall said Anthony’s is probably the highest-profile of the parcels the city will put up for sale. She said she welcomes City Council scrutiny.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Stone’s plans could be a major boost to downtown, creating a bridge of development between Riverfront Park and the Spokane Arena.
“I’m not convinced that Anthony’s bid is the best bid,” he said.
Councilman Steve Salvatori said he understands why administrators picked Anthony’s because of the missing details. But he noted that Stone’s proposal said his plan would create about 500 jobs, plus 200 construction jobs. About 80 people work at Anthony’s.
“There is enough in here to make me curious,” Salvatori said. “If there really is a difference of 425 jobs, those would be the cheapest jobs we ever bought.”
Lane Hoss, vice president of marketing for Mad Anthony’s, said the company’s goal is to “maintain that as the Anthony’s restaurant it is.”
“We have been in Spokane for 8 1/2 years. We have forged wonderful relations with our guests and nonprofits in Spokane. We have a great team of employees. Add on top of that what a stunning and spectacular site it is, and we just want to stay there.”
An attempt to reach Stone was unsuccessful Tuesday.
The city purchased the building with a federal grant about 15 years ago for the Lincoln Street bridge project, a controversial idea that was scrapped by city leaders. Even though the city used federal money for a bridge it never built, the city is allowed to keep the money from the sale, though most of it must be used on arterial streets.
The restaurant building was erected in 1965 to house the Polynesia Restaurant but became the popular Black Angus Steakhouse for 22 years starting in 1966.
In 1994, Salty’s at the Falls moved into the building, and then a special events facility operated there after the city purchased the land.
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