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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Downtown Spokane’s Howard Street skywalk to be moved, redesigned

One of downtown Spokane’s first skywalks will be torn down and replaced with something more sleek and modern.

The skywalk over Howard Street at Main Avenue connects the Bennett Block building with the former Bon Marche/Macy’s building. With its yellow scalloped roof, it dates from the construction of the Parkade building in the late 1960s and matches a skywalk spanning Main Avenue from the Parkade to the Bennett Block.

The replacement is part of a major renovation of the former Macy’s department store buildings with residences on the upper floors and a mix of retail and offices on the lower floors.

As part of that project, the skywalk will be moved to the north.

The skywalk that connects the Parkade and the Bennett Block will stay.

Centennial Properties bought the Macy’s complex of three buildings in June. Construction is now underway with scaffolding attached to outer walls. Centennial Properties is the real estate subsidiary of the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Doug Yost, director of real estate for Centennial Properties, said replacing the skywalk over Howard Street and moving it to the north will open sight lines to both the 1890 Bennett Block building and the southeast corner of the former Macy’s store, which is considered a prime retail location.

“I think it is going to open up the building,” Yost said.

Dru Hieber, of Hieber Properties, which owns the Bennett Block, said she likes the idea of moving the skywalk. It will open views of her historic brick building, which was placed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places in 2015 following extensive restoration, she said. Carhartt occupies the prime retail space on the southwest corner of that building.

The skywalk does not complement her building, Hieber said: “It sticks out.”

Paul Mann, a longtime historic preservationist and leader in the Spokane Preservation Advocates in Spokane, said the demolition of the Howard Street skywalk is going to be a point of discussion among SPA members.

But even so, “If they are going to replace it, I suppose there is nothing that can be done,” he said.

Hieber noted that the Parkade-era skywalks are not listed on any historic register. A stairway in front of the Bennett Block building was demolished two years ago. The Parkade isn’t on the historic register either, but it’s listed on an online tour guide for midcentury modern architecture in Spokane.

Renowned architect Warren Heylman, of Spokane, a leader in the midcentury modern movement, designed the Parkade in 1967 and was involved in the design of the two skywalks with their distinctive arched yellow roofs.

Yost, of Centennial Properties, said the project’s architects and engineers are studying possibilities for the new skywalk, including the exact placement over Howard.

The Howard Street crossing will have a sleeker, cleaner design, said Hieber, who is participating in the project with Centennial Properties.

“I am very excited about the project,” she said, describing it as progress.

Yost said a skywalk connecting the Macy’s building, which also was home to Bon Marche department store, to River Park Square across Wall Street will have a similar design to the replacement skywalk over Howard.

Centennial Properties has applied for a demolition permit to take down the Howard Street skywalk, and the Spokane City Council will have to approve new skywalk agreements with the property owners.

It will take about a year to complete design and construction, which will occur simultaneously with the renovation of the three-building Macy’s complex.

NAC Architects of Spokane is working on design, and seeking to blend the old with a new look on parts of the Macy’s building. The historic east facade of the buildings will be preserved.

A parking garage is planned for the underground level.

Walker Construction, of Spokane, is the contractor. DCI Engineers, of Spokane, is also on the project.

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