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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cornerstone of downtown Spokane’s skywalk system to be replaced

A skywalk once heralded as the final piece of downtown Spokane’s aerial pathways in the 1980s will be demolished and then replaced next year.

The city and Centennial Properties, the new owners of the previous Macy’s downtown department store building, have agreed to terms calling for the demolition of the existing skywalk that connects the building to River Park Square. Centennial and River Park Square are subsidiaries of the Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review. Centennial will be responsible for building a new skywalk that could be completed as early as next year.

“I would say it’s going to go in sometime in the middle of 2017, maybe a little bit earlier or later,” said Doug Yost, spokesman for Centennial.

The design of the new skywalk needs to run through the city’s permitting process, which includes final approval by the City Council. Yost said no design drawings had been prepared yet, but Centennial would likely use the existing skywalk as a model for the new overpass.

“The idea would be able to incorporate a little of what’s there,” he said.

Yost said it was too early to provide a cost estimate for the project.

Opened in February 1985, the span connecting what was then the Bon Marché department store to a B. Dalton bookseller in the rebuilt Saad’s Shoe building was the final piece of a $2.4 million project creating a 12-block aerial link downtown. The construction also added retail space to the second floor of the River Park Square shopping center. The skywalk itself cost a half-million dollars and was designed by Warren Heylman, the Spokane-based architect responsible for many of the Lilac City’s signature buildings.

At the time of the existing skywalk’s construction, Spokane’s aerial pedestrian system was second in size in the nation, trailing only Minneapolis’s 80-block network of skyways.

Marlene Feist, a spokeswoman for the city, said a demolition permit had been prepared as of Wednesday, and staff were waiting for the final signatures from developers before work could begin. Workers are hoping to tear down the skywalk before finishing the roughly $800,000 repaving of Wall Street, which is slated to finish early next month, said Kyle Twohig, engineering operations manager for the city.

City Council President Ben Stuckart, who’s worked with Centennial, River Park Square and city staff on the timing of the pedestrian projects downtown, said timing was critical to protect the concrete being poured on Wall Street, which was graveled over the winter to accommodate the planning of sidewalks after replacement of a sewer main and River Park Square obtained a 17-foot vacation from the city on the east side of a new Urban Outfitters store.

“All we’re hearing about right now is concerns about the road still being closed, and we don’t want to do anything to lengthen that, or God forbid, push it into next year,” Stuckart said.

Yost predicted the skywalk teardown would occur sometime in September. Wall Street has been partially blocked due to the paving project, renovations at the old Macy’s building and construction of the new Urban Outfitters, which is scheduled to open this fall.

The different heights between River Park Square and the renovations occurring in the old Macy’s, which is being converted into a mixed-use structure by Centennial, will require a ramp in the skywalk, Yost said. Most of the slope will likely be accommodated in the skywalk, requiring only a slight elevation change inside the building, Yost said.

Stuckart said the new skywalk will resemble the one that was built between the Spokane Convention Center and the Grand Hotel by the Spokane Public Facilities District on the east side of downtown. That skywalk was the first built downtown since 1994.

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