A new skywalk across Howard Street between the former Macy’s building and the Bennett Block will be built with a gentle slope about 100 feet north of the skywalk’s former location.
The Spokane city hearing examiner this week approved the new skywalk to connect a mezzanine level in the former Macy’s building with the second floor of the Bennett Block building to the east across Howard Street.
The Macy’s building, which has been renamed as The M, is being converted to apartments on the upper floors with retail or offices on the lower floors.
Centennial Properties, which bought the building last year, is leading the project. Centennial is a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.
The 76-foot-long skywalk is being installed closer to mid-block over Howard Street between Main Avenue and Spokane Falls Boulevard.
The former skywalk, which was removed, had been adjacent to Main Avenue.
The project needed a variance from the city to allow for a 6 percent slope of the skywalk between the two buildings. Also, street access to the skywalk is more than 50 feet away on both ends, which requires a variance from the city’s code regulating skywalks.
The variance for street access was needed to avoid major changes to the historic Bennett Block building, according to city records.
The renovation of The M will bring 105 apartments to downtown with parking available on the basement level. The old mezzanine level is being removed to allow for a higher ceiling on the first floor. A new mezzanine will be on the next floor.
The project should be finished for retail spaces late this year with residential units opening in the middle of 2018.
Project architects said in December that the building has two potential national retailers lined up, but the retailers were not identified.
Macy’s closed the historic downtown store one year ago as part of a series of store closures across the country. Prior to becoming Macy’s, the store was home to The Bon Marche for more than 50 years.
The M is made up of different structures. The building on the southwest corner of the Macy’s site opened in 1914; the building on the northwest opened in 1921. For much of its early history those structures were the Culbertson’s department store. They became Bon Marche in 1947. The building on the southeast corner was built in 1955 as part of an expansion and remodel of the Bon Marche.
Walker Construction, of Spokane, is the contractor. DCI Engineers, of Spokane, is also working on the project.
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