A Spokane bread factory that once pumped out 5,000 loaves an hour will now be producing engineering schematics and dog walkers.
The Wonder Building has its first two tenants following a $15 million renovation of the historic Wonder Bread bakery building on Broadway Avenue.
Parametrix, a Seattle-based engineering company that largely focuses on public infrastructure, is the building’s first tenant. The company and its 40 Spokane-based employees occupy 8,000 square feet. The company has offices across the Western U.S. and employs 500 people.
Locally, the company works with Northern Quest Casino, the Washington state Department of Transportation and the cities of Cheney, Liberty Lake and Spokane. Most recently, it did construction management for the city’s University District Gateway Bridge.
The second tenant, Seattle-based Rover.com, signed a lease this week to move to the building from its current downtown location in the Bennett Block. The company, which connects dog owners with sitters and walkers, will occupy 30,000 square feet in the building and has leased the entire top floor and the western end of the second floor. It will move in May, according to a statement.
Roger Flint, chief operating officer for Parametrix who is based in Spokane, said the building has all the good aspects of a historic building while providing modern amenities.
“What we love about it is it’s basically a new, modern building but then it also has the beautiful exposed old brick,” Flint said. “That’s the biggest advantage for us. They kept the shell, the exterior brick is still here, but they basically built a new steel structure building inside it.”
Construction on the building is ongoing, including work to finish a three-story, 260-stall parking garage directly to its north on the same block.
The 95,000-square-foot bakery building, which was added to the Spokane Register of Historic Places earlier this year, will have space for retail, offices, restaurants and storage. In all, the completed building complex will have three floors and a basement.
The building is formally known as the Spokane-Continental Bakery Building, a complex of four buildings erected beginning in 1909. The earliest building was designed by architect Albert Held, who also designed the Globe Hotel, the Holly-Mason Building and the Knickerbocker Apartments. He also designed the Frequency Changing Station near Liberty Park for the Spokane and Inland Empire Railroad.
The business started as the Sengfelder Bakery & Confectionery Co. downtown in 1887 before becoming the Spokane Bakery. That business was purchased in 1907 by two German immigrants, brothers David and Max Ackerman, who moved the bakery to its location on the north bank of the river.
In 1925, the facility was purchased by Continental Baking Co., which operated bakeries in 100 locations across the country. Its best known products were Wonder Bread and Hostess cupcakes, which were produced in the building until 2000.
Flint, with Parametrix, said he’s glad to be in a historic building that was saved from demolition.
“To me, I love that someone had the passion to see the potential in a dilapidated old building and save it,” he said. “I personally love the look of it. They saved the historic nature of it.”
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