A Message from our CEO

Washington Trust Bank plans South Hill community center

Spokane-based Washington Trust Bank is moving forward with its plans to develop a neighborhood community center and coffee shop on a vacant pad site on Spokane’s South Hill.

A city of Spokane building application calls for a 3,400-square-foot building to be built at 3173 S. Grand Blvd., which is at the northeast corner of 32nd Avenue and Grand Boulevard.

The community center will be located just south of the new Washington Trust Manito branch that opened at the end of 2018.

Spokane-based Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the $750,000 project, and Wolfe Architectural Group PS, also of Spokane, designed it. Seattle-based DCI Engineers, which has an office in Spokane, is providing engineering services for the community center and coffee shop project.

Cathie Winegar, vice president of division operations for the bank, says Washington Trust wants to build a community center that will serve the surrounding neighborhood.

“It’s not just for our clients,” Winegar says. “There’s a demand in the neighborhood for meeting space for groups like PTA, small business groups, and business owners.”

She says Washington Trust also will make use of meeting spaces to host financial education and first-time home buying seminars.

In recent years, Washington Trust has completed at least two major branch remodels in Spokane and replaced the Manito branch altogether. Wolfe Architectural Group also designed the remodels.

Washington Trust has 41 branches in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. With more than 1,000 employees, the bank has $6.5 billion in managed assets.

Thomas Hammer Coffee plans South Hill shop

After 26 years, the Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasting Co., is finally coming to the South Hill.

The coffee shop will be located in a planned 3,400-square-foot community center building to be built at 3173 S. Grand Blvd., which is at the northeast corner of 32nd Avenue and Grand Boulevard. The center will be located just south of the new Washington Trust Bank Manito branch that opened at the end of 2018. Washington Trust will construct and operate the building.

Thomas Hammer, who owns the Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasting Co., says a coffee shop located in a community center presents an ideal situation.

“Many shops, including some of ours, are a grab-and-dash where the coffee becomes just a necessity to the day,” Hammer says. “But the vision here is to create a space that is filled throughout the day where customers can relax, converse, meet, learn, and build friendships.”

Through the years, South Hill residents have frequently inquired as to when the company would put a shop on that side of town, Hammer says.

“By far the most email, requests, or comments we get are, ‘When are you coming the South Hill?’” he says. “We have looked for years but never found the right location with the right vibe, but this will be worth the wait. Since we made the South Hill wait this long we want to deliver a stellar experience in every aspect.”

“The vision for this store  is to become the most welcoming and sought after South Hill coffee house by delivering what we do best,” Hammer says.

Spokane-based Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the $750,000 project, and Wolfe Architectural Group PS, also of Spokane, designed it. Seattle-based DCI Engineers, which has an office in Spokane, is providing engineering services for the community center and coffee shop project.

H.D. Fowler starts work on new building in Spokane Valley

A new wholesale distribution center for waterworks and irrigation equipment distributor H.D. Fowler Co. is under construction at 410 N. Park Road, in Spokane Valley.

Tim Grissom, senior project architect with Boise, Idaho-based Cole Architects PLLC, says construction on the two-story, 18,000-square-foot office, sales, and warehouse building started a few months ago, and the project is expected to be completed by late September.

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

Valued at $1.9 million, the building will have 10,000 square feet of warehouse space. The remaining 8,000 square feet will be dedicated to office space.

H.D. Fowler’s Spokane branch plans to move from its current 8,000-square-foot center, at 6625 E. Sharp, which is about 15 miles northwest of the Park Road.

Grissom says Cole Architects will incorporate some steel elements into the design of the new building.

“It’s going to have a steel awning around the outside of the building, and that has some exposed steel pipe, which is one of the products they sell,” Grissom says.

The owner of the Park Road site is Bellevue, Washington-based Cittagazze LLC.

H.D. Fowler’s corporate offices are located in Bellevue. It has 22 centers throughout Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. The company opened its first branch here in 2000.

H.D. Fowler claims to be the oldest and largest independent, family-owned distributor of its kind.  The company originally was established in 1920 as Fowler Engineering



Mini golf, craft beer will mix at Flatstick Pub

The windows are covered and work has begun in earnest on downtown Spokane’s Flatstick Pub, a casual craft beer pub with a nine-hole miniature golf course, according to city permit data.

Permits for work valued at $700,000 have been issued for interior improvements at The M building, 612 W. Main Ave., the former Macy’s building that was largely converted into residential space.

The pub is taking the westernmost ground-floor space in the building, which is nearly 10,000 square feet.

Spokane natives and brothers Sam and Andy Largent founded Flatstick Pub in Kirkland, Washington, in 2014. They’ve since opened locations in Pioneer Square and South Lake Union in Seattle, with another expected to open in Tacoma this year.

Besides mini golf, the pub will feature golf-themed games invented by the Largents. Duffleboard is a tabletop golf game with a hand-held putter. Stick Putt is like Skee Ball with a putter. Ball Jockey is similar to air hockey.

The project’s general contractor is Baker Construction, of Spokane. Atelier Drome Architecture, of Seattle, designed the project.

Centennial Properties breaks ground on warehouse project in Spokane Valley

Centennial Properties Inc. is starting work on the first of three planned, 60,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouses on 18 acres of undeveloped commercial land in Spokane Valley, says Doug Yost, director of real estate for Centennial.

The city of Spokane Valley has issued the building permit for the first structure, dubbed building A, and permits for buildings B and C were under review as of last week.

The project is located at 19223 E. Euclid, south of the Union Pacific Railroad and east of the Kaiser Aluminum manufacturing facility.

Building A is scheduled to be completed in December, says Yost, but the company hasn’t established a timeline for construction of the other two buildings yet. The construction value for each building is estimated at $4 million, building permit information shows.

The warehouses will have a mix of office and manufacturing space and will be built using the concrete tilt-up construction method, according to the permits, meaning large, concrete panels will be cast onsite and then raised into position using a crane.

Yost says one of the facilities is to be the new home to the Spokesman-Review printing press, which is expected to relocate from its downtown location at 1 N. Monroe by early next spring. The Spokesman-Review is a subsidiary of the Cowles Co., as are Centennial Properties and the Journal of Business.

Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the Building A project, which was designed by Shane Mercier, of Mercier Architecture & Planning, also of Spokane.

Yost says it’s too early in the process to name tenants for the other planned warehouses, but the structures will be similar to Building A in that they will be geared toward manufacturing and will have office spaces.

Baker is helping with the permitting process for buildings B and C, Yost says, but Centennial hasn’t yet selected a contractor for them.

Centennial also is working with the city to install infrastructure in the roughly 152 acres it owns within the industrial area and is helping to extend Garland Avenue from Barker Road to Flora Road to provide access to its property. The company recently obtained engineering and grading permits to install utilities and sub-grade Garland Avenue along the property.

The warehouses are being built within the 840-acre northeast industrial area that the city of Spokane Valley designated as a priority development area. The city passed a planned action ordinance earlier this year to perform a traffic and environmental analysis to cut both time and cost out of developing in that area.



Blockhouse project moves forward in Perry District

A year in the making, site work on the $2 million Blockhouse|Life “smart” housing development in the South Perry District is underway, with construction on the buildings expected to begin by July.

Blockhouse is the brainchild of six businesspeople from a variety of industries in Spokane who came together last year with the vision of creating sustainable community development and affordable housing that could be built quickly and efficiently, says Matthew Collins, founder and principal architect of Uptic Studios.

The project will be located on nearly a half-acre site, at 1410 E. 10th, just east of South Perry Pizza and Perry Street Brewing.

Cross-laminated timber panels for the project are being manufactured at Vaagen Timbers LLC, of Colville, Washington, which is working to achieve structural certification required to sell CLT panels, Collins says.

Vaagen recently built a CLT press and plans to develop a factory for the assembly of the panels so walls could be delivered pre-painted and with plumbing already installed, which Collins says could shave months off a construction time.

Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the project, and Uptic Studios Inc., also of Spokane, designed it. The Spokane office of DCI Engineers is the project engineer.

The building permits currently are under review by the city of Spokane. Collins estimates construction will be completed with units ready to occupy by fall.

“That’s the advantage of modular palletized systems … the construction and the install go much quicker,” he says.

The development will consist of eight residential buildings consisting of two townhouses, two duplexes, and four single-family homes, for a total of 5,600 square feet, according to the permit applications. Collins says there will be a total of 14 living units that will be either leased or used for short-term vacation rentals.

“We’ve incorporated a lot of community input and strategic partners within the community to elevate what we’re doing,” says Collins. “We’ve been talking with Lime about it being a Lime juicer station, maybe even with electric vehicles.”

What makes the development “smart” is the incorporation of walls that integrate the utilities, appliances, and fixtures, which are centrally located for efficiency, Collins says. The prototype is still under development, he says.

“It has some pretty sophisticated technology behind it, so we can monitor energy consumption, water flow, temperature, and humidity to really enhance the environment that we’re developing,” he says.

The development group behind Blockhouse also includes Andy Barrett, chairman of Spokane Valley-based camp shelter manufacturer Berg Manufacturing Inc., and father and son team Dave Coombs and Cody Coombs, co-owners of Spokane development company DMC Properties.

Collins says the group has formed as a neutral third-party organization called the Spokane Sustainable Academy. The organization isn’t yet fully licensed but is working toward being incorporated as a nonprofit.

Other strategic partners include Washington State University, Avista Corp., Siemens Industry Inc., Vestis Systems Inc., PCI Renewables Inc., and The Toolbox.

Moving forward, Collins says the group plans to develop more housing.

“We’re identifying our next parcel, so we’re hoping by the time we break ground, we’re in design development for our next site,” says Collins. “So, our objective is to do one at a time, but to do it as quickly as we can without the wheels going off the bus.”



GSI headquarters undergoing $400,000 renovation

The first two floors of the Spokane Regional Business Center is undergoing major renovation, according to city permit data.

The work is being done by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the floors’ tenant, and the work is valued at $400,000.

Dale Damron, GSI’s vice president of finance and administration, said the work is a “refresh.”

“We’re just doing a refresh – making some bigger changes to our public places, our meeting rooms, in order to enhance and expand their use for ourselves and our membership base.”

The work will incorporate the organization’s new logo and tagline, “Together We’re Greater,” which in September replaced the old slogan, “Creating Something Better.”

GSI formed in 2007 when the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce merged with the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. The nonprofit has 1,200 members that employ about 100,000 workers.

Work on the project is happening in two phases. The first, which has gutted the first floor, will last through June. The second phase, which will occur on the second floor, will last until the fall.

The project’s contractor is Spokane’s Baker Construction. The architect is Mercier Architecture & Planning, also of Spokane.



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.