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

Developer plans $60 million towers for old YWCA site on north bank of Spokane River

Spokane developer Larry Stone unveiled long-awaited plans this week for the old YWCA property overlooking the Spokane River.

The $60 million project, called The Falls, features two, 13-story towers with hotel rooms, apartments, condos, office and retail space and underground parking.

A public pathway will allow pedestrian access along the bluff.

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

Stone’s proposal is the latest in a string of multimillion-dollar redevelopment projects planned north of the Spokane River. They include ongoing construction in the Kendall Yards neighborhood and a planned renovation of the old Hostess Bakery building for office and retail space.

Public officials say the $64 million makeover of Riverfront Park has been a factor in encouraging investment downtown. About $800 million in public and private development downtown has taken place in recent years, or is in the planning stages, according to the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

“It’s exciting to see it coming to fruition,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said.

“There is a lot of synergy happening right now. … I think people like Larry Stone are capitalizing on that,” said Juliet Sinisterra, Downtown Spokane Partnership’s business development manager and the former project manager for Riverfront Park’s master plan.

The old YWCA property is a “fantastic site with stunning views of the river,” she added “We are excited to hear about this concept” for redeveloping the site.

The Falls project includes 120 hotel units, 120 apartments and 18 condos. Retail and office space would each occupy about 25,000 square feet in the development. CollinsWoerman Architects of Seattle designed the project.

Adding more downtown residents strengthens the economic vitality of the city’s core, Sinisterra said.

“It’s a wonderful addition,” she said. “It provides shoppers for our retailers; it activates the park; it makes the streets safer at night.”

The YWCA sold its waterfront parcel to build a joint operation with the YMCA at 930 N. Monroe St.

Stone bought the YWCA property at 829 W. Broadway Ave, for $3.2 million in late 2010 after another developer backed out of a purchase agreement.

Stone didn’t return calls seeking comment Thursday, but he plans to start construction on The Falls next year, according to information from a pre-development conference with city planners.

Stone’s goal is to have the building ready for occupancy in 2019 or 2020, said Tami Palmquist, an assistant planner for the city of Spokane.

The project requires a 50-foot buffer along the river and a shoreline permit.

“I hope they move fast,” Ben Stuckart, the Spokane City Council president, said of the developer.

The area north of the Spokane River “has a lot of opportunity,” but the pace of redevelopment has been slower, he said.

In addition to Kendall Yards and the old Hostess Building, there has been interest in building a $41 million Sportsplex east of the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Stuckart noted.

It would feature a field house with space to hold 17 volleyball courts, 10 basketball courts or 21 wrestling mats, as well as a 200-meter banked hydraulic indoor track and an NHL regulation-size ice rink.

The Sportsplex would be a joint project between the Public Facilities District, the Spokane Sports Commission and Spokane County. However, the funding has not been worked out yet.

The Falls will be Stone’s first downtown project. In 2012, he bid on the city-owned building that Anthony’s Restaurant occupies overlooking Spokane Falls. But the owner of Anthony’s outbid him for the building.

Stone is president of SCAFCO, a silo and steel stud manufacturer in Spokane. He also is the owner of the former Playfair horse racing track in the East Central neighborhood, which he has turned into a 48-acre commerce park.