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Wednesday, January 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Historic Columbia Building to undergo $3.5 million renovation

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 10, 2020

Black Enterprises has filed an application to change the six-story Columbia Building’s use from commercial to multifamily, which will make way for 50 “turnkey” apartments on the upper five floors of the structure at 107 S. Howard St. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Black Enterprises has filed an application to change the six-story Columbia Building’s use from commercial to multifamily, which will make way for 50 “turnkey” apartments on the upper five floors of the structure at 107 S. Howard St. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Black Enterprises is planning a $3.5 million project to convert the historic Columbia Building in downtown Spokane into a mixed-use site with several apartments on the upper floors.

Black Enterprises has filed an application to change the six-story building’s use from commercial to multifamily, which will make way for 50 “turnkey” apartments on the upper five floors of the structure at 107 S. Howard St.

NAI Black will take advantage of the historic designation and real estate tax exemptions to redevelop the building, according to the real estate firm’s 2019 market report.

NAI Black occupied the Columbia Building – also known as the James S. Black Building – for more than 46 years before the company moved to 801 W. Riverside Ave. in 2018.

The Columbia Building houses The Wave Island Sports Grill & Bar and Fusion Juice on the first floor.

The project architect is Spokane Valley-based Mercier Architecture. The project contractor is Spokane-based Baker Construction.

The Columbia Building was built in 1907 for Judge George Turner, the property’s original owner. Turner, a Spokane pioneer, was one of Spokane’s “most celebrated and successful lawyers,” according to a Spokane Register of Historic Places nomination.

Turner commissioned early Spokane architects Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel to design the building, which was one of Spokane’s first fireproof structures after a fire in 1889 destroyed 30 blocks in downtown Spokane.

Turner served as an associate Washington state Supreme Court justice and a U.S. senator and was a leader in drafting the Washington state Constitution. He also practiced law at various firms in Spokane.

The Columbia Building – which was added to Spokane’s Register of Historic Places last year – housed several tenants that practiced law, real estate, insurance and health care, among other things.

The building went through several owners before James S. Black and his wife, Marjorie, purchased it in 1970.

Prominent Spokane architect Warren Heylman completed a significant remodel to the building in 1972. The building was dedicated in the 1980s as the James S. Black Building.

NAI Black, a commercial real estate and property management firm, was originally founded as James S. Black & Co. in 1958. It manages more than 4,000 multifamily units and more than 125 commercial properties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

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