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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Developer Ron Wells loses Ridpath bid

A new group is attempting to consolidate ownership of the Ridpath Hotel and reopen it next year. The deal would exclude local developer Ron Wells. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A prominent downtown developer working to sort out the ownership labyrinth of the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane may be losing his grip on the shuttered property.

Ron Wells was outbid for four pieces of the Ridpath in September in bankruptcy court in Nevada by Ivan Kriger, a Spokane County resident, and a firm called Crystal City LLC. The sale is scheduled to be finalized on Monday.

Stephen Antonietti, who is working on the acquisition for Crystal City, said the properties represent more than 80 percent of the Ridpath.

Kriger said this week that he and other investors want to reopen the Ridpath as a hotel and are working to consolidate ownership.

“That’s our goal, to buy everybody out,” Kriger said.

He added that the group is working with Hilton to manage the hotel.

Wells did not return several calls seeking comment.

Kriger said his group plans to invest $7 million to $14 million in the hotel to reopen it in about 10 months.

The group, however, has struggled to complete all the actions required by the court to complete the sale, and a previous deadline was extended to Monday.

Crystal City and Kriger have blamed their struggle to complete the sales on roadblocks they say were created by Wells, according to court documents.

In the auction held in bankruptcy court for two portions of the Ridpath in the main hotel tower, Kriger and Crystal City bid $3,135,000, edging Wells’ Ridpath Club Apartments LLC by $35,000.

In the connected historic YWCA building, which was built in 1906 and is part of the Ridpath complex, Kriger and Crystal City bid $1,115,000. That was $15,000 more than the group led by Wells.

Crystal City deposited $410,000 in escrow on the four properties that is not refundable if it is unable to close the purchase, according to court documents. If the deal isn’t completed by Crystal City and Kriger, it will be sold to the Wells group.

Antonietti said he has made an offer to Wells to purchase his Ridpath properties and has received a counteroffer.

After the hotel closed in 2008, the complex was sold off in pieces. The recession, coupled with the complicated ownership structure of the building, resulted in disputes over owners’ rights to utilities, access and other issues, and in foreclosures and multiple lawsuits.

Wells emerged in 2012 as a potential savior for the building and had vocal support from elected leaders and other prominent business leaders.

“There will be a sense of remorse if Ron doesn’t get this project and concern about what might happen,” said Mark Richard, executive director of the Downtown Spokane Partnership. “But we’re going to do anything and everything possible to help whoever owns the building to be successful.”

Wells has worked with city officials in hopes of lining up a loan for his housing project. Spokane’s Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley said the city still is considering a $1.75 million loan for Wells’ project using federal Housing and Urban Development money.

The aim for the loan would be to spark low-income housing downtown and decrease blight. Wells’ project would create 200 units, many of them for low-income people. Cooley said a market-rate hotel like what has been proposed by Crystal City would not be eligible for the money.