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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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95-year-old Marjorie Black Peterson attends Mother’s Day dedication for downtown apartments bearing her name

UPDATED: Sun., May 9, 2021

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The family and friends of 95-year-old Marjorie Black Peterson gathered on Sunday to pay tribute to the woman who launched a real estate empire with her husband, James S. Black, by naming their newest project after her.

The Marjorie Apartments fill five of the six floors of the James S. Black Building at 107 S. Howard St. in Spokane. The Wave Island Sports Grill & Sushi Bar will occupy much of the first floor when it opens in about a month.

Until 2018, the offices of NAI Black, the real estate company now headed by Dave Black, were in the building. The company moved to its new location on Riverside Avenue that year.

“My dad bought the building in the ’70s,” said Dave Black. “I worked here my whole career until ’18.”

The idea to name the building after the family matriarch came up at a family meeting. It seemed like a natural fit, said James S. Black Jr.

“She’s 95 years old,” he said. “She doesn’t have a lot of time left. We lost our dad in 1984, and he bought this building.”

The building will still be known as the James S. Black building, but the apartments will be named the Marjorie Apartments. David Black said it was fitting to honor his mother this way.

“My dad and mom have been everything in terms of inspiration,” he said. “My mom was just a great example of how to be a good person.”

Peterson was there for the unveiling, sitting in her walker and smiling as her family stood around her and posed for family pictures, some of which will hang in the lobby. Quite a few of her four children, 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren were present.

The general contractor for the project was Baker Construction. Brooke Baker, director of business development for Baker Construction, presented Peterson and the family with several plaques that read “The Marjorie Apartments, est. 2021” and included a picture of Peterson and her husband. Peterson looked surprised and pleased by the unveiling of the plaque.

While the plaque was a surprise, Peterson said she knew her family was naming the apartments after her.

“I was flattered, of course,” she said.

She said she appreciated that so many of her family members could be there for the private unveiling.

“It’s a lovely day,” Peterson said. “It’s about as special as you can get. It’s just terrific.”

All 50 apartments in the building are leased, but a studio on the fifth floor was still vacant Sunday and the family crowded in for a quick tour. Peterson was wheeled to the front windows, where an electric fireplace hung from the wall.

“Ooh, this is nice,” she said as she checked out the room.

The room was fully modern with an industrial-style ceiling and some exposed ducts. A kitchen lined one wall and a stackable washer and dryer was tucked into one of the front closets. The large windows offered a commanding view of downtown Spokane.

Though all the apartments are rented, anyone who wants to stay a night or two in the building that is on the local, state and national historic registers will have that chance. All the units on the second floor will be managed by ROAV Rentals as short-term rental units, said Dave Black.

Though the historic exterior of the building wasn’t touched, the interior is all new, said Chris Bell of NAI Black, who is part of the building’s development team with Dave Black and James S. Black III.

“They completely did a gut renovation of the building,” Bell said. “Baker Construction did a phenomenal job.”

James S. Black III said the apartments were fully leased within two months. “There’s definitely a need for downtown housing,” he said. “One of our goals was to alleviate that need.”

A community grand opening celebration for the building is being planned for when The Wave opens, said Dave Black. The date and other details will be announced at a later date, but the restaurant is expected to be ready in about a month, he said.

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