When Selkirk Development founder and CEO Sheldon Jackson heard the city of Spokane was redesigning Riverfront Park with the idea of providing connectivity to private properties, he purchased the former Park Center building.
Jackson planned to redevelop the building at 908 N. Howard St. into office space, but his vision for the site expanded in 2019 into the $80 million Papillon Towers project that would convert the three-story brick structure into restaurant, retail and office space.
The project also called for a six-story, 36,000-square-foot tower at 531 S. Cataldo Ave. and an adjacent, 12-story high-rise with office space and five levels of indoor parking.
Jackson knew the site on the north bank of the Spokane River was desirable, but he didn’t anticipate how vibrant it would become with the addition of the Podium, the Ice Age Floods playground, renovation of the U.S. Pavilion and Howard Street promenade, and a future sports stadium.
The new developments have prompted a reconfiguration of the Papillon Towers project to include more residential housing that would be surrounded by several amenities within walking distance, including bars, restaurants and retail.
“The north bank is an opportunity for Spokane to do something really amazing,” Jackson said. “(The city) has already done amazing stuff with the Podium, Riverfront Park and the stadium, but I think it’s something we can grow on.”
Three eateries – the Outsider, Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse and Lorèn – are planning to open this summer in the Papillon building, which is 100% leased.
Chef Juli Norris is opening Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse on the first floor of the Papillon and Lorèn, a French-inspired restaurant, speak-easy and social club with live jazz music on the downstairs level.
Across from Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse, chef Ian Wingate is opening the Outsider.
“It’s going to be exciting, and I think the mix is great,” Jackson said. “You have everything from the Outsider, Kasa and Lorèn, and the jazz bar downstairs will be very interesting.”
Construction could begin on the Papillon South tower as soon as this summer, pending approval of a building permit filed with the city, Jackson said.
Spokane-based Bernardo|Wills Architects is designing the Papillon South tower.
The tower will be mixed-use with office, retail and hospitality space on the upper floors and a public market with restaurants on the ground level.
“We would like to attract small, incubator-type restaurants, almost like a food court scenario,” Jackson said.
“Or someone with a food truck that wants to have a permanent location. They would have this small cooking area that people could walk up to and order.”
Selkirk Development is also planning creation of Cataldo Alley, a pedestrian-friendly street adjacent to the Papillon Towers with lighting, seating, retail vendors and artwork.
The firm will be reconfiguring its plans for the 12-story Papillon North tower.
The change was prompted in part because of uncertainty about the need for office space during the pandemic, Jackson said.
“The North tower is still in the conversation,” Jackson said. “Spokane is growing dramatically, and residential needs to be part of (the project).”
Jackson is looking to potentially partner with other developers for the north tower, which will be “residential and hotel-driven,” he said.
The tower’s size and architecture will be determined at a future date, Jackson added.
Because the Papillon Towers project lies in an Opportunity Zone, Selkirk Development initially sought to raise $30 million from investors, according to a Spokesman-Review article published in 2019.
Opportunity Zones were created as part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development by allowing investors to avoid taxes on capital gains.
Selkirk Development, however, has since changed its course on funding for the project.
“What we did is repositioned some of our properties so we don’t need funding outside of normal bank funding for the South Tower and the existing (Papillon) building,” Jackson said. “It’s the North tower that will take a partner. We are looking at more of a partnership than funding and looking for a partner that understands residential (development) for the north tower.”
The Papillon building’s name was inspired in part by the Expo ’74 butterfly that was restored and placed near its original location at the north bank entrance of Riverfront Park. The word “papillon” is French for butterfly.
The Expo ’74 butterfly is undergoing redesign after it was damaged in a windstorm last year.
The estimated cost of the Papillon building renovations and construction of the south tower is between $15 million and $20 million, Jackson said. The cost of the north tower will be determined after it undergoes redesign, he added.
Construction on the Papillon South tower is estimated to take 14 months. The Papillon North tower could take more than two years to build, depending on the size of the structure and permit approval, Jackson said.
“If you live in the neighborhood, you could walk to everything,” Jackson said of the Papillon Towers development. “I think the next phase needs to be residential.”
A restaurant hotspot
Norris, a local restaurateur and chef, looked at several potential locations for Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse before finding the Papillon building.
“I was able to tour the Papillon building and fell in love with the location, charm of the building and the energy of the area,” she said.
“What kind of sealed it for me was the moment I walked downstairs and saw the beautiful stone walls and archway. I knew I wanted to create a second restaurant that would be perfect for that space in the building.”
The 2,500-square-foot Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse, on the building’s first floor, will feature folded sandwiches, including the “Bomb Mi” made with braised short rib, pickled carrots, Daikon radish, red onions, jalapenos and cilantro topped with Asian barbecue sauce.
The sandwiches are served on house Kasa bread, baked fresh daily. The restaurant will also offer fresh salads, hearty bowls, appetizers and desserts. The taphouse will have 18 local and regional beers on draft, along with a single-barrel wine on tap, Norris said.
“I really created (Kasa) to embrace the culture of the local Spokane community,” Norris said. “There’s going to be a lot of tourists around where it’s located and I want them to be able to understand how cool Spokane is.”
Kasa will have an outdoor patio 2 to 3 feet above ground level.
“You’ll have a beautiful view,” Norris said. “You can see the Hoopfest main court, the Pavilion, the kids’ park and the city skyline.”
Lorèn will be a contemporary social club, speak-easy and French-inspired restaurant with a live jazz band, Norris said.
“Our goal for Lorèn is really to create an optimal, curated experience for each guest,” she said. “I want Loren to feel like a stylish and intriguing restaurant with subtle touches from the Prohibition era.”
Lorèn will feature the Sophia Room, a private, hidden dining and event space that can seat up to 16 people. Social club members will be able to book the room for events. In true speak-easy style, attendees will need to provide a password to gain access to the event.
Twenty-five social club memberships will be available. Members will receive a bottle of house wine and other perks. A monthly membership cost has not yet been determined, Norris said.
Lorèn’s menu will include kale and white bean house soup; pâté brûlée; charred ribeye and frites; gnocchi and French-style caramel pudding.
The restaurant will have its own signature white sparkling wine, Très Belle Lorèn, and craft cocktails, including The Lorèn, which consists of vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon, rosemary and crème de violette, Norris said.
Norris is looking forward to seeing her vision for the two restaurants come to life.
“I’m excited to begin serving people in our community and creating a positive place for people to get together and have a great meal,” she said.
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