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.”

 

https://www.spokanejournal.com/local-news/smart-housing-project-planned-in-south-perry-district/

$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.

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/may/11/95-million-apartment-complex-latest-development-in/

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.

 

https://www.spokanejournal.com/local-news/ridpath-apartments-near-completion/

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.

 

https://www.spokanejournal.com/local-news/apple-valley-dental-office-to-be-built-along-north-division/

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.

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/nov/18/patio-upgrade-set-for-downtown-restaurant/

What’s Going Up? Best Western Premier and Zpizza

Owner: Peppertree Hospitality Group of Spokane, Washington

General Contractor: Baker Construction & Development Inc. of Spokane

Architect: Wolfe Architectural Group, Spokane

Subcontractors: Baxter Builders and Severson Plumbing & Mechanical of Bend, Stephens Heating & Cooling of Prineville and Crawford Electric of Stayton

Details: A 120-room hotel and pizza restaurant with taproom are expected to open in early summer 2018, said Brooke Baker, director of business development for Baker Construction, the general contractor based in Spokane.

The hotel is a Best Western Premier with an adjoining restaurant: Zpizza, the Irvine, California, chain that offers nitrate-free pepperoni, gluten-free crust and vegan cheese, along with an extensive taproom, said Rita Santillanes, co-owner of Peppertree Hospitality Group in Spokane.

The project marks a couple of firsts for Peppertree and Zpizza. This is the first time Peppertree, which has built several Best Westerns, is building the premier-class hotel, Santillanes said.

Best Western requires all premier hotels to have an adjoining restaurant, so it’s also the first time Peppertree has acquired a restaurant franchise, she said. The company considered working with an independent restaurant operator and researched several franchises before landing on Zpizza, she said.

“We thought, because it’s close to the university, it was a good choice,” she said.

The Best Western Premier Peppertree Bend Inn will be Zpizza’s first Oregon location, Santillanes said. The building plan is for a 3,700 square-foot restaurant and patio with combined seating for about 100 people overlooking Mt. Washington Drive.

Zpizza is known for self-serve taprooms, but Santillanes said it’s unclear at this point whether self-service will be allowed under Oregon liquor laws. Locally brewed beers will be on tap, she said.

Other amenities in the hotel plan are a flexible-space meeting room, indoor pool and spa, bicycle storage and drying room for ski gear, Santillanes said.

Construction is proceeding on schedule, site superintendent Mike Lourenco said. The main goal is to have the five-story building under roof before snow begins falling, he said. With framing underway, there are on average 60 people working on the site, he said.

Work on the 2.77-acre site began in March with Latham Excavation removing numerous boulders and chunks of concrete, Lourenco said. “This particular site was kind of a dump-fill place before we got here,” he said.

Excavators dug as deep as 27 feet, he said. The unusable material was run through rock-crushing equipment and spread over the site before construction could begin, he said.

—Kathleen McLaughlin, The Bulletin

 

 

Baker Construction begins $3.8 million in projects for Diamond Parking Service

Spokane-based Baker Construction & Development Inc. has begun construction of two projects here for Seattle-based Diamond Parking Service, one of them a storage complex expansion on the West Plains and the other a parking lot downtown, worth a total of $3.8 million. Lucas Holmquist, vice president of construction services for Baker Construction, is serving as manager for both projects.

Holmquist says the largest project is a $3.5 million expansion of the company’s Diamond Self Storage facility at 5602 W. Sunset Highway, started in June.

Last October, Diamond announced it would be closing its Park ‘N Jet parking operation at the site and converting the 1,000 parking slots into additional storage units.

Holmquist says plans for the site include construction of eight new storage buildings totaling 100,000 square feet of space.

“None of the storage buildings will include heating or cooling systems,” Holmquist says. “Some units will be larger and include a pass-through design so that renters can drive motor homes or RVs in one side and out the other.”

Holmquist says the eight new buildings will house 460 storage units, ranging in size from 30 to 560 square feet.

“We obtained separate permits for each building so that as the company gains occupancy for each, we’ll have them available for renters,” he says. “I would expect we’ll have the first three buildings ready as early as next month, although the full project won’t be completed until mid-December.”

In addition to the eight storage buildings, an 800-square-foot office building is planned there, Holmquist says.

“We’ve already begun construction of the office building and expect it to be completed by November,” he says.

The second project Baker Construction is working on for Diamond Parking Service is the development of a new parking lot on the southwest corner of Second and Washington, where the Mayfair Café once stood.

Holmquist says construction on the $250,000 project started earlier this month and is expected to be finished by the end of September.

“We had hoped to start the project last year, but were delayed in the permitting process,” he says.

According to Holmquist, the project also was somewhat challenging due to the need to remove rock, re-construct nearby sidewalks, and complete work on storm water treatment.

“A lot of it involved removing rock and filling in old basements and vaults beneath the street’s surface,” Holmequist says. “We also needed to create retaining walls around the site that would eliminate car headlight glare to traffic on the street

 

https://www.spokanejournal.com/local-news/baker-construction-begins-38-million-in-projects-for-diamond-parking-service/

Conversion of Ridpath Hotel is underway downtown

Prominent Spokane developer Ron Wells says the ownership group he leads has obtained a building permit to convert most of the Ridpath Hotel into downtown workforce apartments, after a protracted effort to consolidate ownership of the Spokane landmark and secure financing for the project.The renovation work is valued at $7.7 million, the permit shows.

Wells had earlier estimated the total project cost at upwards of $20 million, including the hotel acquisition costs.

“We’re full speed underway,” Wells says. “My partners and I own everything now. We finally got it back into local control after 10 years. We’re happy. We’re happy. We’re happy.”

The Ridpath Club Apartments LLC project will convert former hotel rooms into 206 apartment units on the second through 11th floors of the 13-story Ridpath Tower, at 515 W. Sprague, and the attached four-story east annex also known as the “Y” building, at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Stevens Street.

Wells’ company, Ron Wells Group LLC, is designing the project, and Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor.

“Baker has a superior job-delivery skill system,” Wells says. “They will have floors 10 and 11 ready to rent about the end of October. Thereafter, another roughly 40 apartments will be ready every two or three weeks, working their way from the top.”

Jon Spilker, Baker Construction’s manager on the Ridpath project, says the project will be completed in about a year.

One of the first project tasks is to remove the 1980s- and ’90s-era hotel furniture from the complex, he says.

“We’re getting existing hotel furniture out of the building,” he says. “A lot of charities are coming down to pick it up.”

Other initial work will include removal and abatement of lead paint and asbestos, Spilker says.

Each hotel room will be remodeled to include a kitchenette, he says, and carpet will be removed and replaced throughout the complex.

The project will include 147 micro and studio apartments with living space ranging from about 250 square feet to 500 square feet. The rest of the apartments will be one-bedroom units with up to 1,000 square feet of living space.

As a requirement of low-income housing tax credits approved by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to encourage investment in the project, 80 percent of the apartments will be reserved for tenants with annual income at or below 60 percent of the area median income, with the target market being workforce tenants.

For a single person, the maximum income to qualify for such housing is $28,000.

Wells says, however, the apartments won’t be typical low-income housing.

“Tenants have to have a job or verified income,” he says.

Ridpath Club Apartments will set the minimum annual income for at least one resident in each regulated unit at $20,000.

“That’s a large portion of the workforce,” Wells says of the income range anticipated.

Kim Sample, of Spokane-based commercial real estate brokerage and management company NAI Black, will be the supervising manager for the property, Wells says.

“She will be rolling out pricing pretty soon on the first group of apartments that will be finished near the top,” he says.

A restaurant and other first-floor commercial space also is envisioned for the project.

Other amenities shown in preliminary plans for the Ridpath Club Apartments include restoring the marble swimming pool in the annex basement, and a fitness center tenant.

Wells says the 12th and 13th floors are being developed separately into four luxury condominium units, one of which he will own and occupy.

“My current plan is to move into Ridpath,” Wells says. “I had always intended to live in the top floor.”

At least one other condominium unit is reserved, he says.

The Ridpath has been closed since 2008, after its ownership was fragmented among many investors, some of whom represented competing proposals to redevelop the hotel.

 

 

https://www.spokanejournal.com/local-news/conversion-of-ridpath-hotel-is-underway-downtown/

Cheney credit union develops West Plains branch

Cheney Federal Credit Union has started construction on its second branch, which will be located at the south corner of Westbow Boulevard and Aero Road, near the Interstate 90-Medical Lake interchange, says JoAn Sanders, CEO of the credit union.The 2,700-square-foot Westbow branch will be the second for the CFCU, which is based at 520 First in Cheney.

Sanders says the new branch will have a drive-thru window and two ATMs.

CFCU currently has 12 employees and will hire four additional people to open the Westbow branch.

The new branch is expected to be completed in September, Sanders says.

Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the project, and Mercier Architecture & Planning, also of Spokane, designed it.

CFCU, which was founded in 1951, had about 5,050 members as of Dec. 31.

Sanders says CFCU’s membership has grown by about 17 percent since it expanded membership eligibility in April 2013 to include anyone who lives works, worships, or attends school within the boundaries of the Cheney and Medical Lake school districts.

The original charter didn’t include the Medical Lake school district, which serves the city of Airway Heights.

The most recently available report to the National Credit Union Administration, shows CFCU had total assets of $92.7 million as of Dec. 31, up from $88 million a year earlier. The report also shows CFCU’s loans totaled $38.5 million and deposits totaled $81.8 million, both up, respectively, from $33.8 million and $77.9 million a year earlier.