Signs of life on North Monroe

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North Monroe’s Jenkins Building has a new owner with his eye set on major improvements. (PHOTO: Google Street View)

Add 10-16 units to the “under construction” or “proposed” downtown or near-downtown housing totals. The Spokesman-Review is reporting that the Jenkins Building, home to Alpine Bistro and Bakery, will be extensively remodeled and refurbished by new owner Mark Agee. Agee is the CEO of Pamiris, an HR management and payroll information systems company he started with his wife, and is well-known in the local community for his service to the low-income population.

The building, at 802 N Monroe, dates to 1910 and features both retail and office space. The upper two floors will be converted to 10-16 apartments, likely in keeping with Agee’s strategy of providing low-income housing for chronically underserved populations. An elevator will be added, and Alpine Bistro will remain. Regardless, the addition of new residents to this area of Spokane reminds us of 2007 plans to improve the streetscape on North Monroe. That plan called for traffic calming, tree islands, improved intersections, and a general revitalization a la South Perry. It should be interesting to see if those plans are revisited with the new redevelopment.

What do you think? Are you excited for the addition of new residents to the North Monroe area? Does this revitalization of a historic building bode well for the cause of historic preservation? Share your thoughts in our comments section below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you.

Pre-Fab Deja Vu: Why can’t Walt Worthy learn from past mistakes?

Construction continues Walt Worthy's Convention Center Hotel. Pre-fabricated concrete panel installation has begun and is expected to progress quickly. (PHOTO: Trebor of Spokane on SkyscraperPage Forum)
Construction continues Walt Worthy’s Convention Center Hotel. Pre-fabricated concrete panel installation has begun and is expected to progress quickly. (PHOTO: Trebor of Spokane on SkyscraperPage Forum)

Look, we’re excited about Walt Worthy’s new Convention Center Hotel downtown set to open in 2015. We are. Really. But who was the genius that sold him on pre-fab construction? The guy (in)famously said after the Davenport Hotel Tower was completed to little fanfare that instead of choosing more attractive glass and steel, “investments were made on the inside of the building” (that’s a paraphrase). The same seems to be playing out across the street from the INB Performing Arts Center. Precast concrete paneling is being installed quickly and efficiently, and the familiar array of perfectly-aligned square windows is already beginning to take shape. Photos from Trebor of Spokane on the SkyscraperPage Forum provide us with a look at the construction (click the link for more photos of the construction progress).

Our question…is Walt obsessed with local pre-fab concrete company Central Pre-Mix Prestress? Actually, indications are…yes. Some of Walt Worthy’s largest projects have utilized the company. The Davenport Hotel Tower. The admittedly somewhat nicer-looking River View Corporate Center. The list goes on. All constructed by Prestress. With the major impact that the new tower will have on Spokane’s skyline, we have to wonder…at what point does the relative unattractiveness of downtown towers begin to harm economic potential? Would a statement building have been a better choice to attract conventions, visitors, and new businesses? Time will tell.

Until then, construction continues.

What do you think? Would a statement building featuring steel and glass have sent a better message? Is there a downside to these Worthian architectural choices? Why do you think he still hasn’t learned his lesson from the public outcry over the Davenport Tower? Share your thoughts in our comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.

Will the South Perry District finally gain urban-style residential units?

This pit at 907 S. Perry in the South Perry District has been empty for months. What's going on?
This pit at 907 S. Perry in the South Perry District has been empty for months. What’s going on?

The South Perry District easily makes the list of Spokane’s favorite neighborhood retail centers. It’s small, pedestrian-friendly, and inviting. And while it’s a great area, some lament that it doesn’t have enough quality housing for those who desire to be close to South Perry Pizza, Casper Fry, and Perry Street Brewing, among others. But a major construction project planning to get underway shortly could quickly change that. And perhaps teach Spokane a lesson about density in the process.

KCLH, a Spokane development firm led in part by principal Harold Preiksaitis (who happens to also be a local doctor) plans to build a $1.3 million, two-story, 13,000 square foot mixed use building at 907 S. Perry. On this empty lot. In this pit. The company tentatively plans to build lower-floor spaces for a restaurant and a medical practice, with residential units on the upper floor. While no permits have yet been received by the city, negotiations with tenants were underway last fall. While construction was scheduled to begin then, we’re thinking it was held up by weather and slow tenant negotiations.

Does anyone have any additional information on this planned South Perry mixed-use? Let us know by commenting below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We’d love to hear from you.

Craft beer takes center stage as the local brewery scene explodes

Perry Street Brewing, one of several recent brewery openings, has attracted widespread attention and praise in recent weeks and months as it makes a name for itself in the South Perry District.
Perry Street Brewing, one of several recent brewery openings, has attracted widespread attention and praise in recent weeks and months as it makes a name for itself in the South Perry District. (PHOTO: KREM)

We realize that The #spokanerising Project focuses primarily on livability, urban development, and quality of life, but sometimes quality of life means something more than walkable neighborhoods and achieving urban density. It’s about the prevailing lifestyle of an area, how people choose to spend their time, where their passions lie. It’s about food, culture, entertainment, activities, and vibrancy. And so we pose the question. Has anyone else noticed that Spokane’s brewery scene has exploded recently?

Two breweries (Ponderosa Brewery and Young Buck Brewing) will be sharing the space previously occupied by Spokane Public Market, and another (Empire Brewing Company) will be opening at some as-yet-unnamed location. This in addition to the breweries either opened or substantially retooled in the past few years (NoLi, Iron Goat, Ramblin’ Road, Orlison, Budge Brothers, River City, Perry Street, etc.). Other would-be brewers have started crowdfunding campaigns in order to raise funds, some with more success than others. These breweries contribute to a sense of urban vitality and help develop Spokane’s unique culture. In cities like Portland and Seattle, local brewpubs and craft breweries play an important role in building a cohesive city identity. The same could be true for SpokaneWith all of our recent brewery openings and more on the way, it’s clear that beer makes Spokane a better place to live.

Craft Beer Week runs until Saturday, May 18. Local breweries are running specials, tastings, classes, and other cool and special events all week, so be sure to get out and get a sense of our local scene.

What do you think? Can beer play an important role in establishing a city identity from which to draw pride? Do craft breweries make Spokane a better place to live? Share your thoughts on Facebook, on Twitter, on this blog, or in person. We love to hear from you.

South Perry drug bust garage set for pedestrian-friendly studio-style space

This garage was the site of a drug bust several years ago. Now it's on the market.
This garage was the site of a drug bust about a year ago. Now it’s on the market.

Remember this garage? You know, the one in South Perry that was the site of a massive drug bust almost exactly a year ago? Well, it’s now on the market, and new owner NAI Black (think Dave Black) is looking for businesses that would be interested in moving into a brand new studio-style space. Zoned CC1-NC (Neighborhood Commercial within a “pedestrian-oriented, auto-accommodating” District Center), the 11,700 sf parcel is set for a pretty nice-looking 5,000 sf building with two suites that should fit in well with the new Perry Street Brewing/Woolnik’s Building. There’s a nice, wide sidewalk, street trees, garage-style doors, and a small parking lot in the rear. And while it’s unclear right now which businesses James Black is eyeing as tenants, dining, retail, and office (think architecture studio) is all on the table.

Jump after the break for the site plan and a nice-looking rendering.

Continue reading “South Perry drug bust garage set for pedestrian-friendly studio-style space”

Downtown’s Germond Building gains mid-range to upscale apartments

Downtown’s Germond Building is undergoing a major renovation designed by local favorite Ron Wells. (PHOTO: Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review)

Is the housing market in downtown Spokane starting to thaw out? On Tuesday the Spokesman-Review reported that the Germond Building in downtown Spokane is undergoing a major remodel with upscale apartments being designed and constructed by local developer Ron Wells on the upper floors. Notably, this historic building housed many of the city’s government offices for while a new City Hall was being constructed in the aftermath of the Great Spokane Fire in the 1890s.

Now, the four-story building will play host to eighteen new upscale apartment units on the upper three floors. Ironically, the building is owned by Diamond Parking, which we kinda-sorta railed against on Monday. Wells says that the “Diamonds have become passionate believers in restoring older buildings,” per the Spokesman (of course, tell that to the Rookery Block.) The units will range from 600-1,400 square feet and run from just over $1,000 to $2,400 monthly. The requisite granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, of course, apply. Oh, and retail will remain on the first floor, including two new tenants set to move in later this year. New residents move will be able to move in by November.

Kendall Yards #Progress: March 23, 2014

This mixed-use building at Kendall Yards will feature retail and restaurant space on the bottom floor and two stories of residential lofts on the upper floors.
This mixed-use building at Kendall Yards will feature retail and restaurant space on the bottom floor and two stories of residential lofts on the upper floors. Photo taken March 23, 2014.

Spring has sprung at Kendall Yards. The new urbanist/mixed use development near downtown has taken on a decidedly more urban (and local) feel of late, as Greenstone focuses on three new buildings in the neighborhood’s commercial district. With Yards Bruncheon now complete, construction is focused on Wandering Table next door, a building that will be the new permanent home for Veraci Pizza, and a new three-story mixed use building with streetfront retail and residential units above called the Highline Lofts. While some leases for the building are presumed to be signed, we only have confirmation that Brain Freeze Creamery will occupy the suite closest to Wandering Table on the western-most side of the building.

With all of these local restaurants joining Central Food, it’s pretty clear that the neighborhood has become a venue of choice for homegrown local businesses much more in line with reality than the Marshall Chesrown/Black Rock designs we saw (and salivated over) in 2006. We’re excited to see which tenants are lined up for the almost-complete Highline Lofts building, when a proposed four-story mixed-use building between Veraci Pizza and Spa Paradiso will break ground, and what will become of the rest of the neighborhood, especially with plans for additional surface parking in lieu of underground garages in the commercial district. Just try to keep that aspect to a minimum, okay, Greenstone?

For more construction and progress photos, hop along after the break.

Continue reading “Kendall Yards #Progress: March 23, 2014”