Horizon Credit Union to construct new branch

Spokane Valley-based Horizon Credit Union plans to construct a stand-alone branch in at 613 S. Washington, on the lower South Hill, with a smaller, but more efficient space than at its current branch in a 25,000-square-foot multitenant building at the same street address.

The projected cost is currently at $900,000, confirms Horizon Credit Union CEO Jeff Adams.

Licia Legrant, of Spokane design firm Bernardo|Wills Architects PC, is designing the project, and Baker Construction & Development Inc., also of Spokane, is the contractor, Adams says.

Construction is set to begin in May on the new building, which will front on Washington Street in what currently is part of the parking lot in front of the building in which the branch is currently located. The new structure is scheduled to be completed late this year, he says.

Adams says he hopes the credit union can move into the new space before the end of the year.

Going from 4,500 square feet to a 3,000-square-foot branch will require more efficient use of space, Adams says. The new space is being designed to reduce physical barriers to provide an interactive space for members, he says, adding that changing the teller line will make room for more shoulder-to-shoulder, conversational space.

Brian Grytdal, vice president of marketing at Horizon Credit Union, says the planned move from the multitenant building will give Horizon Credit Union better street presence and enable members to find it easily.

Grytdal says the credit union is looking to deploy interactive teller machines on the building exterior. With the new design, members will be able to bank from their vehicle.

Adams says Horizon Credit Union also plans to redevelop its Sandpoint, Idaho, branch this year.

“It’s the member experience that we’re really wanting to enhance,” Adams says. “That’s a 25-year-old branch, and it’s time to look at the workflow and the needs of our members.”



Blissful Whisk pastry shop to open this spring

With a teaching kitchen and rustic country space for customers to enjoy high tea, Blissful Whisk LLC bakery will have the kind of cozy atmosphere baker and owner Tiffany Cable says her kids had in the kitchen growing up. At the bakery, which is scheduled to open the first week of May, scones, cookies and cinnamon rolls, all baked by Cable, will fill up the menu.

Blissful Whisk’s specialty will be Palmier cookies, which are sliced from a folded, French pastry and baked into heart-shaped, crisp cookies.

Cable also plans to offer lunch options, coffee, tea, and potentially gluten-free items from outside sources.

High tea will include several courses under a single fee and can be a festive way to celebrate birthdays and other occasions, Cable says.

The bakery will occupy 2,600 square feet of space at 1612 N. Baker. Spokane-based Baker Construction & Development Inc. began building Blissful Whisk from the ground up last July.

Three to four employees will work there, and Cable says she might hire another baker, depending on demand.

A corner area with a play kitchen will be designed to keep kids entertained, and Cable will offer afterschool programs to teach basic baking skills to elementary school-aged children.

Cable previously owned Ace Production Technologies, a Spokane-based robotics company, with her family. The family sold Ace Production in 2016.

She says the current business pursuit was born purely out of her own passion. After attending culinary school at Spokane Community College and sending her children away to college, Cable wanted to create a comfortable space for people to hang out, she says.

Cable, who sends her own college kids care packages laden with treats, says Blissful Whisk will offer a subscription service, which other parents can sign up to send treats to their kids who are off at college.


Duluth Trading Co. builds store in Valley

A new 15,700-square-foot Duluth Trading Co. workwear and accessories retail store is in development in Spokane Valley, says Marc Cable, project manager with Illinois-based Interwork Architects Inc., the company that designed the project.

The project site is at 16314 E. Indiana, just west of the Spokane Valley Hampton Inn & Suites.

Spokane Valley building permit records list the project value at $2.9 million.

Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor.

Jon Spilker, project manager with Baker Construction, says foundation work is underway, and construction on the building is expected to be completed before March. The store is projected to open by the end of April.

Cable says the structure will have a stone base, red siding, and a metal roof. The parking lot will have 90 to 100 parking spaces, he says.

Headquartered in Belleville, Wis., Duluth Trading Co. sells a variety of clothes for men and women, along with a selection of personal care items, such as lotion, body wash, deodorant, shaving cream, and beard oil, its website says. It also sells a variety of tools, storage gear, and dog accessories.

According to its website, the company opened its original headquarters in Duluth, Minn., in 1991, before moving to Belleville in 1997. The company’s first retail store opened in 2010 in Mount Horeb, Wis. The company’s nearest retail store is in Portland, Ore.





2018 Rising Stars: Brooke Baker Spink 2018 Rising Star thrives in the local family business

In the five years that Brooke Baker Spink has worked for Baker Construction & Development Inc., she’s helped secure more than $40 million in construction work.

But it was work in another industry in which Baker Spink, 32, learned how to build sales.

After graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration from Washington State University, she spent five years working for State Farm insurance, where she helped build a new office on the South Hill here from the ground up, she says.

“It was a really good experience for me, essentially helping open up a business from scratch. We didn’t have a single policy holder when we opened up our doors,” says Baker Spink. “That was when I got my first taste of sales.”

Afterward, she transitioned into a corporate role with the insurance company and was later offered the option to run her own State Farm office.

Instead, Baker Spink chose to join Baker Construction & Development because she wanted the opportunity to work with her dad—and second-generation family business owner—Barry Baker.

“Before I got married, he was my best friend,” says Baker Spink, who wed in 2015. “My dad is my role model and the guy I go to for everything.”

After long conversations with her father and his business partners about what joining the construction industry and working in a family business would involve, Baker Spink says she came onboard to the company in a sales position. Five years later, serving as director of business development, she loves working for the family business, she says.

“I know that this is where I was meant to be,” she says.

Now, Baker Spink primarily works with preconstruction services—working with clients to prepare to break ground on projects. That can entail selecting a project site, procuring loans, or interviewing lenders, architects, and engineers to ensure the companies are good fits for the client.

“Director of business development is just a fancy title for sales,” says Baker Spink. “I’m getting out there; I’m in the community and chatting with people and seeing if they need our services.”

Being the boss’s daughter, young, and a woman in the construction industry, Baker Spink says she’s been stereotyped and had to work hard to earn her place in the mostly male industry.

When she started out, she was “more puppy dogs and candy canes” but has since toughened up and adapted to working in a fast-paced and hands-on industry, she says.

“I’m drinking more, I’m cussing more, and I’m fitting right in,” she says, laughing.

Beyond her career, Baker Spink is involved in a number of community organizations, including co-chairing Spokane County United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society and working with the Spokane Philanthropy Awards for four years. She’s also on the board of directors for the Spokane Sports Commission and a member of Rotary 21.

Earlier this year, she was named by Spokane County United Way as the 2018 Emerging Leader of the Year. In 2015, she was recognized as one of Catalyst magazine’s 20 Under 40.

As for personal aspirations, Baker Spink says she’d love to be a mother someday and continue her traveling adventures.

“I want to show my future children you can be an amazing mother and have a successful and fulfilling career at the same time,” she says.



Smart housing project planned in South Perry District

Six businesspeople from a variety of industries are coming together to build a $2 million “smart” housing development, called Blockhouse, in the South Perry District. Andy Barrett, one of the partners in the Blockhouse collaboration, says the group envisions 16 rental units on nearly a half-acre site, at 1410 E. 10th, just east of South Perry Pizza and Perry Street Brewing. The living units will be made of cross-laminated timber panels, with some units reaching into the treetops overhead. Cross-laminated timber is a construction material created by gluing together several layers of wood from trees which are too small for conventional lumber uses

The configuration of living units on the site hasn’t been finalized yet. As currently planned, however, eight 240-square-foot studio units, four 480-square-foot one-bedroom units, and four 960-square-foot three-bedroom, two-story units will be constructed using what Barrett calls a Ground Control Smart Wall System. Made from CLT panels and fitted with plumbing and electrical wiring during the manufacturing process, a smart wall, which will be manufactured through Spokane-based Vestis Systems Inc., will be the heart and brain of each unit, Barrett says.

“For instance, you can talk to the wall and make a phone call. You can order your AmazonFresh. You can tell the wall goodnight, and it will lock the front door; it will turn your temperature down to what you want it to be, and turn off the lights you’ve got it programmed to do,” he says.

Barrett, who is also chairman of Spokane Valley-based remote camp shelter manufacturer Berg Manufacturing Inc. and managing partner of manufacturing startup incubator The Toolbox, says the Blockhouse project began a few years ago with a grant from Washington State University to develop a supply chain for cross-laminated timber. That grant brought Barrett together with Russ Vaagen, founder and CEO of Colville-based CLT manufacturer Vaagen Timbers LLC.

“I didn’t know what cross-laminated timber was if you would have hit me over the head with it,” Barrett laughs. “WSU reached out to me from the advanced manufacturing side of things, and of course reached out to Russ from the wood side of things, and that’s how we got acquainted and started the Blockhouse concept a couple of years ago.”

Since then, the group has grown to include Matthew Collins, founder and principal architect at Uptic Studios; father-and-son team Dave Coombs and Cody Coombs, co-owners of Spokane development company DMC Properties; and Brian Valliant, senior vice president of construction services at Baker Construction & Development Inc.

“We developed (Perry Street Brewing), and while we did that, we saw this opportunity and have been kind of waiting for the highest and best use,” Cody Coombs says. “We went and talked to Andy about doing cargo container homes, and that’s kind of how this all got transformed into Blockhouse. We just feel like the South Perry District is such a great community and a great area to try this out on.”

The project is currently in the predevelopment phase, according to city records. Collins says the ownership group expects to break ground by early fall, with construction being completed by the end of the year. The unusual speed with which CLT buildings can be constructed, compared with traditional methods, is one of the benefits group members say they’re excited about.

Barrett says, “If we can repeat Matthew (Collins’) beautiful designs over and over again in the factory, that’s where we can really eliminate or reduce a lot of the labor and inefficiency that we see in construction.”

Valliant adds, “We’ve got a shortage of skilled construction workers across all trades, framing included, and what (CLT) does for us is it uses less manpower to assemble on site. A lot of that stuff is already done in the shop, in the manufacturing process. All that results in speed of construction increasing and lowering overall cost.”

Vaagen says the speed of the process could create opportunities for the construction of affordable housing.

“I spend a lot of time in the Seattle and Portland markets, and when we see economic growth in those places, housing can’t keep up,” he says. “A lot of people talk about affordable housing, and I think it has a lot to do with the speed at which we can react to growing populations.”

In addition to the speed of construction, Vaagen argues that CLT panels are a more environmentally responsible construction. Because CLT culls small-diameter and sometimes diseased or dead trees, it minimizes some of the risk of wildfire. Its carbon footprint also is smaller than other construction materials, Vaagen says.

“The eco-friendly aspect is multifaceted, and frankly we don’t know all the benefits yet,” Vaagen says. “It’s still so much better than the steel and concrete that we’re using now, because we’re replenishing the land to absorb all that carbon, and when we cut the trees we embed it into the product, that carbon stays in that structure.”

Collins says there are also architectural benefits to creating structures with CLT.

“They’re structurally very stable, so we’re able to create great amenities like rooftop gardens and other features that we wouldn’t be able to do with conventional framing,” Collins says. “CLT gives it an aesthetic expression on the inside, so rather than a drywall box you have this beautiful wood environment that is really a step above where the market is.”

Vaagen says T3 Building that Amazon.com Inc. leases in Minneapolis is a good example of the benefits those spending time in a CLT structure may enjoy. The seven-story, 220,000-square-foot T3 Building is said to be the first such commercial building to be constructed completely of engineered wood.

“They track data everywhere, and I was talking to one of their Ph.D. industrial psychologists who does all this stuff for them, and they were talking about how they have less absenteeism there and lower turnover compared to their other spaces,” Vaagen says. “They attribute it to people liking the natural elements in the wood structure.”

Barrett says the group is eyeing some other projects. While he says it’s too early make any announcements, he says the City of Spokane has been supportive of the Blockhouse project.

“The mayor’s office has been involved, and they’ve been talking to us about how this might transform a lot of the struggling neighborhoods in Spokane,” he says. “I think that’s exciting. We all want to leave a better place, and I think that if we can create something that can be duplicated and improve the neighborhoods and be local, that’s just an awesome story.”

Others in the ownership group agree.

“It’s really exciting for Spokane, where it’s located in all of this, being that we’re surrounded by trees, and where we are in the (construction) pipeline, and where we are in the growth curve,” Collins says. “Spokane has the opportunity to really be the leader in a lot of this technology.”

Whether similar groups will form to create smart wall CLT structures remains to be seen, but Vaagen says it’s impossible to pull off similar projects alone.

“We’ve all got really good core competencies, and when we add them together we get an exponential effect,” Vaagen says. “When you produce lumber, you get separated by a whole chain of distribution to get it to market. CLT allows you to be involved in that design phase.”



$2.6 million apartment complex latest development in Spokane’s Perry district

The scramble to fill the vacant lots in Spokane’s South Perry District continues, with a three-story, 15-unit apartment complex coming to South Scott Street.

The $2.6 million project will include a 15,000-square-foot building and 13-stall parking garage on nearly an acre of land at 743 S. Scott St. Three formerly wooded parcels comprise the development’s property, which have been cleared to prepare for construction.

Called the Scott Street Apartments Two, the project is the second phase of a project by Jordan Samiee, an Oregon-based real estate broker, and his business partner, Wayne Sabbak, who lives in Spokane.

Samiee said the new building’s design will mimic the first building.

“We kept it as close to the first as we could,” he said. “We really liked the outcome of the first one, so we’re basically repeating it.”

When complete, the development will have 12 two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units, with monthly rents ranging from $1,200 to $1,600.

“All the apartments will have views,” Samiee said. He anticipated the units would be ready by January.

The three parcels were purchased from Lars Neises and Rebecca Laurence, who recently built a large home directly east of the project. The two northern most parcels sold to Samiee and Sabbak have deed restrictions limiting building heights to one story.

The general contractor for project is Baker Construction, of Spokane. Evan Verduin, with Spokane-based Trek Architecture, designed the building.

The first phase, the Scott Residences, at 712 S. Scott St., is a cubist, three-story complex on a rocky outcropping across the street from the new project. Both are within walking distance of the shops and restaurants on South Perry.

The pair’s first project was marketed as among the “most luxurious” in town, with two-bedroom, 1,050-square-foot units with monthly rents ranging from $1,400 to $1,650.

According to the Zillow Rent Index, the median monthly rent in Spokane is more than $1,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, the highest its been since Zillow began tracking rental data. The lowest median rent tracked by the online real estate database company came in December 2011, when it dipped to $758 month.

The past few years have seen unprecedented growth in the Perry District. A $2.3 million, 14-unit townhouse development on vacant land near South Perry was issued construction permits by the city in February. Two other empty lots directly behind South Perry Pizza and Perry Street Brewing are being considered for a complex of six to 10 units.

Other recent development on vacant Perry-area lots include:

A house built at 1908 E. 11th Ave. that sold in January for $355,000.

A five-bedroom, 3,300-square-foot home built on an empty lot over the past year that sold in April for $490,000

A 2,700-square-foot home under construction at 1013 S. Fiske St. at an entrance to the newly paved and expanded Ben Burr Trail on a lot purchased last year for $21,000

A $1 million complex of six townhomes that is nearing completion near Newark Avenue on Arthur Street on a lot that was vacant before it sold for $45,000 in 2016.

This article misstated the value of the apartment complex due to an inflated valuation from the city of Spokane’s planning department. The apartments are valued by its developers at $2.6 million.



Ridpath apartments near completion

The long-planned $22 million redevelopment project at the former Ridpath Hotel location’s 13-story Ridpath Tower, at 515 W. Sprague, and the attached four-story east annex known as the “Y” building is expected to be completed within a few months.Spokane developer Ron Wells, of Ron Wells Group LLC, says he expects the first of The Ridpath Club Apartments LLC’s living units to be ready for leasing before the end of March. Construction is projected wrap up on the rest of the rental units in early June.

Developers have been working to turn prior hotel rooms into 206 apartment units on the second through 11th floors of the building, says Wells.

The complex will include 106 micro apartments and 45  studio apartments. Those apartments will range from 250 square feet to 500 square feet, he says.

The remaining apartments will be one-bedroom units and will include up to 1,500 square feet, he says.

The 12th and 13th floors are being  made into four luxury condominium units. Wells will own and occupy one of those, he says.

Ron Wells Group designed the renovation, and Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor.

The Ridpath had been closed since 2008.



Apple Valley Dental office to be built along North Division

Yakima, Wash.-based Apple Valley Dental & Braces plans to erect a new medical office building at 2121 N. Division, which is slated to be its third Spokane-area location, says Jolene Babka, operations officer with the company.Zach Bull, project manager with Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, says the project cost is about $1.7 million, and the building will have about 7,000 square feet of space.

The dental office will be the building’s only tenant, says Bull. The new structure will be built on currently vacant land, and the exterior will include a parking lot and landscaping.

Construction is expected to start in April and to be completed in November, he says.

Babka says the facility will be the eighth office for Apple Valley Dental. The practice’s two current Spokane-area offices are located at 2929 N. Market, in northeast Spokane, and at 14319 E. Sprague, in Spokane Valley.

Established in 2003, Apple Valley Dental & Braces provides dental services, braces, and oral surgery, she says. The company employs between 200 and 225 people.

Babka says the practice is opening a third Spokane-area office because it has been well received here.

“We’re just excited to continue offering services in the Spokane area,” she says.



Patio upgrade set for downtown restaurant

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro in downtown Spokane will upgrade its patio with $300,000 in work, according to permits issued by the city.

The work will include added bar seating in the patio, a new storefront, a redesign of the patio and exterior and interior cosmetic work.

The owner of the restaurant is listed in the permits as Matt Clark, of Santa Ana, California.

The work will be done by Spokane’s Baker Construction. It was designed by James Lencioni, of Chicago-area Aria Group Architects, which has worked with the restaurant chain on 130 locations for nearly 20 years. Millies Engineering Group, of Munster, Indiana, did the structural engineering.