Hoisting a glass of whiskey to commemorate the last edition of The Spokesman-Review printed downtown will be pretty easy.
Dry Fly Distilling is moving its production facility into the newspaper press building on Monroe Street in downtown Spokane, according to Don Poffenroth, president and CEO of the distillery, which started producing gin, whiskey and vodka in 2007 and was the first legal distillery to sell its product in the state in nearly 70 years.
Poffenroth said “98 percent” of Dry Fly’s operations will move downtown but the distillery’s current facility on Trent Avenue near Gonzaga University will be maintained for “ancillary issues.”
Poffenroth said the production facility will be joined by a tasting room and bottle shop. Documents filed with the city show a new entrance into the building, at 1 N. Monroe, on Riverside Avenue. The initial plans show a bar and restaurant, a bottle shop for retail sales, barrel storage, and production and bottling areas.
Before the distillery can move, however, the newspaper press has to vacate the building. In February, newspaper management said it was moving print publishing operations to a Spokane Valley industrial park. Rick Sant, director of operations for The Spokesman-Review, said he anticipated the new press location will be operating by March 1.
The building is owned by Cowles Real Estate Co., which is owned by Cowles Co. The Spokesman-Review also is a subsidiary of Cowles Co.
A new press building is under construction, and large components of the paper’s new press already are at a warehouse being inspected. When the building is complete, likely near the end of the year, installation of the complex press will begin.
“Any time you install a press that is that sophisticated, it takes some time,” Sant said. “Once the building is up and installation begins, it takes 45 days. At least.”
The move of the press will open up space in the large downtown building, which occupies nearly an entire city block.
As newspaper management finalized plans to relocate the press, Dry Fly’s efforts to move to a larger facility on the north side of city fell through. The distiller was going to be one of the main tenants in a 5-acre mixed-use business center on a former city fleet and street maintenance operations center south of Mission Avenue, near North Central High School. The Normandie site, as it’s known by the city, was sold in June 2018 to developer Chris Batten for $2.7 million.
“That building failed our structural engineering. It wouldn’t meet our needs,” Poffenroth said. “We were fortunate enough to be contacted by the Cowles. It developed very quickly.”
Doug Yost, director of real estate investments for Centennial Real Estate Investments, which also is owned by Cowles Co., would not comment on Dry Fly’s move but said the press relocation “frees up space and lets us look for opportunities downtown.”
“The way that building is set up is pretty much open,” Yost said. “Once we get the press out of there, we’ll look at the space and see what we can do with it. But our real focus is on moving the production facility.”
Poffenroth, however, said the move was assured, and everyone is on board.
“It’s imminent,” Poffenroth said. “I’m all in, and the Cowles family is all in.”
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