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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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9 projects that will transform Spokane’s city center

The 1400 Tower is a condo project proposed on Riverside Avenue overlooking Peaceful Valley. (Photo courtesy of Mick McDowell)
The 1400 Tower is a condo project proposed on Riverside Avenue overlooking Peaceful Valley. (Photo courtesy of Mick McDowell)

Spokane is in the midst of major transformations, with $800 million in public and private investments pouring into the city’s downtown and nearby neighborhoods.

New apartments, stores and offices are under construction. Some of the work involves rehabilitating historic Spokane buildings. Other projects are new construction.

Here are nine large projects proposed or underway in the city’s urban core, in no particular order.

1. Wonder Bread Building

Cost: $12.5 million

Projected completion: summer 2018

Proposed use: mixed use, with food market and office space

A historic brick bakery north of the Spokane River will be transformed into office space, with an artisan food market on the first floor and a glassed-in roof plaza.

The bakery made Wonder Bread and Hostess products until 2000. It occupies almost an entire city block near Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

“We hope it becomes an iconic landmark for the city and for the north side of the river,” said Pete Mounsey, one of the partners in Wonder LLC, in a recent interview.

Part of the bakery that burned in 1947 will be reconstructed with brick to match the original exterior.

The owners envision an artisan food market on the first floor. The third floor will contain outdoor patio space and the plaza.

2. 1400 Tower

Cost: $32 million

Projected completion: TBD

Proposed use: residential

A 14-story condo tower is planned for West Riverside Avenue overlooking the Peaceful Valley neighborhood.

Developer Mick McDowell and his wife, Shelley, first proposed the project more than a decade ago. But the tower faced opposition from neighbors who were concerned about its height. After several rounds with the city of Spokane, the tower was approved; however the project stalled during the recession.

The improved housing market has made the tower viable again, Mick McDowell said. He’s currently raising money for the project.

3. WSU Jensen Byrd Building

Status: Stay tuned.

Earlier plans for a $45 million renovation of a historic warehouse building on the WSU-Spokane campus were recently scrapped. WSU-Spokane officials said they will create a new master plan for the campus to evaluate needs associated with the Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine.

Chancellor Lisa Brown said the new plan will focus on creating more space for research, teaching space for medical students and other student amenities. She said there are no plans to demolish the 1908 building.

4. Riverfront Park redevelopment

Cost: $64 million-plus

Projected completion: 2020

Riverfront Park is in the midst of a major overhaul that re-envisions the 100-acre park created after Expo ’74.

Some of the major projects include a new home for the historic Looff Carrousel; restoration of the Pavilion for event space; an “ice ribbon” for skaters that replaces the old rink; a new Skyride facility; and a nature-based playground and outdoor learning area.

The park’s rehab also includes better access for people with disabilities and cleanup of historic contamination at the site.

Voters approved a bond for the park’s redevelopment in 2014.

5. The M

Cost: $65 million

Projected completion: winter 2018

Use: mixed-use housing and retail

The old Macy’s building, which has been renamed The M, is being converted into apartments, retail and office spaces. The renovation is being led by Centennial Properties, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.

Macy’s closed the historic downtown store in 2016 as part of a series of closures across the nation. Before it was Macy’s, the store was home to the Bon Marche for more than 50 years.

The building renovation will bring 105 apartment units with underground parking. Retail tenants have not been announced for the space, but are anticipated to occupy the building before the end of the year.

The apartment units should be ready in 2018.

A new skywalk across Howard Street will connect The M to the Bennett Block. It will be built about 100 feet north of the current skywalk.

6. Ridpath Club Apartments and Condos

Cost: $22 million

Projected completion: 2019

Use: mixed-use housing and retail

Developer Ron Wells is working to reopen the historic Ridpath Hotel with a mix of housing options, including affordable “micro-apartments” for downtown workers.

The 214-unit Ridpath project includes 179 apartments targeted to working-class professionals earning less than $30,000 per year. The smallest apartments will have 249 square feet of living space, which will rent for $453 per month.

Small studios to two-bedroom lofts are also part of the mix, along with penthouse condos and a restaurant.

The Ridpath has been closed since 2008. Wells purchased the old hotel this spring with the financial backing of the city. The City Council voted to loan Wells $1.75 million from a discontinued federal program aimed at improving affordable housing.

7. University District Gateway Bridge

Cost: $10.6 million

Projected completion: spring 2018

Use: pedestrian and cyclist bridge

The bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks features a 120-foot-tall central arch with cable stays to hold the bridge deck in place. Work started this year, with the bridge’s completion expected by fall 2018.

Business and property owners in the East Sprague Avenue area are eager for the potential economic redevelopment that the bridge could spur.

A subsidiary of Avista Corp. announced conceptual plans this spring for a 140,000-square-foot multiuse building called the Catalyst, which be built at the bridge’s south landing. Officials say more information will be available later this year.

8. Kendall Yards planned unit development

Cost: $150 million-plus

Projected completion: ongoing

Use: mixed-use residential, commercial and office

There’s plenty of construction underway at Kendall Yards, the planned unit development Jim Frank is developing on a 78-acre former industrial site north of the Spokane River.

New townhouses are for sale on the west end of the development. A grocery store called My Fresh Basket Marketplace is opening this summer. Two commercial buildings are under construction.

Frank’s company, Greenstone Corp., also has announced plans for a building at 1001 W. Summit Parkway. Underground parking would be topped by two buildings – a residential structure with about 120 apartments and a commercial structure with about 60,000-square feet of office space. Retail would be on the first floor.

Realistically, it will be at least 24 months before the new apartments are available for rent, Greenstone officials said.

9. The Falls

Cost: $60 million

Projected completion: unclear; construction could start as early as 2018

Use: mixed-use residential, commercial and office

There’s a little bit of everything in developer Larry Stone’s plans for the old YWCA property on the Spokane River’s north bank.

The Falls project features two 13-story towers with 120 hotel rooms, 120 apartments, 18 condos and about 25,000 square feet each for office and retail space. That’s according to a preliminary description filed with the city of Spokane.

Parking would be underneath the building. A public pathway will allow pedestrian access along the bluff.

Construction could begin as early as next year, city officials said.

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