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.

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

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.

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.



The Dirt: Goodwill building large center in Post Falls

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest is building a Post Falls facility for a thrift store and services. It will replace smaller quarters in that city.

Baker Construction & Development recently started the project at 4040 E. 16th Ave., at the corner of 16th and state Highway 41. With just under 24,000 square feet, the structure will hold space for retail, donation sorting and storage, and a Workforce and Family Services office. The services include a career center, job placement services and related support.

With an estimated project value of about $3 million, the building is expected to open next spring.

Goodwill currently leases a 6,000-square-foot Post Falls facility at 317 E. Seltice Way, and those operations will move to the new site. The nonprofit employs 14 people in Post Falls and expects to add another 10 to 15 positions with the new facility.

Separately in Spokane, Goodwill plans to open a new store in a former Albertsons set to be remodeled into a multitenant building, at 1617 W. Northwest Blvd

Shawn Vestal: Division Street beautification a testament to possibility

For the longest time, “Division Street exit” was code for “Spokane’s ugly front door.”

Well, it ain’t ugly anymore. And the reason it’s not is a testament to the richness of Spokane’s current cultural, political and economic soil – and the fruits borne of collaboration and coincidence among government officials, businesspeople and even the city’s artists.

The Division Street exit and entrance was spiffed up with a city project last year that took some $600,000 and invested it in artwork, landscaping, retaining walls and other amenities. The spiffing-up was intensified with the opening of a little strip mall three months ago – Peppertree Plaza, with a new bagel shop and barber – where before was a big hole in the ground for eight years.

To look at it now is to wonder: Why did we live with the old front door for so long? There are many reasons, and a big one – so far as the plaza goes – was a series of economic difficulties for the property owners, starting with and stemming from the Great Recession. But at the risk of seeming grandiose, I think there is another reason and it has to do with the spirit of the city: We’re becoming a place that doesn’t settle for an ugly front door.

This renewed sense of civic possibility and pride has been palpable in recent years. Neighborhoods are blooming with possibility. You can’t keep up with the good restaurants. Streets and infrastructure work continues apace, and we’re getting ready to make over the city’s central park. Downtown is a potent swirl of activity fueled in significant measure by Walt Worthy’s new Grand Hotel.

Anymore, when I see a “Spokane Doesn’t Suck” bumper sticker I find it irritating, because we’re past merely not sucking.

Which brings us back to the Division Street gateway.

Leaders in this city have known for many years that improving the front door was a possibility, and a relatively cheap one. Bafflingly, we’ve found reasons for years not to do so.

Mayor David Condon mentioned the city’s blighted gateways when he announced his run for mayor.

“I’m not bashful about being proud of our city,” he said this week, “but let’s face it: We were not putting our best face forward at these entrances. … It was just an obvious thing to me.”

Improving those areas had long been a priority for downtown businesses, and Condon’s administration, led by former head of Business and Development Services Jan Quintrall, began pressing to make it happen.

“You come down the hill on I-90 and see this lovely city sitting in a green bowl,” she told the Journal of Business in 2015. “And then you exit off and it’s like, yuck. It’s like having a beautiful house and your front door is made of barbed wire and duct tape.”

I recall driving to Spokane from Moscow, Idaho, in the late 1980s. Getting off the freeway and coming onto Division Street was a depressing affair then – like stepping into a world of cracked, weedy asphalt – and it has remained so for a long time. If anything, it’s been worse in recent years, thanks to the pit at Third Avenue and Division, which sat there pocked by rebar and concrete since 2008, when construction on a new hotel was halted by the economic meltdown.

In 2014, community, business and arts organizers concocted a way to hide the lot behind a fence covered with artwork – an ingenious idea, but not a permanent solution. However, what grew out of that project was a crucial collaboration between the property owners, Rita and John Santillanes, and Baker Construction and Development Co.

The Santillaneses agreed to the art project, and Baker Construction volunteered to build the braces to put up the artwork. The city coordinated obtaining and displaying the art. The Santillaneses, who are hoteliers without retail experience, were struggling to find a viable business use for the lot at the time. Brooke Baker, the director of business development for the construction company, noticed how much street traffic passed that corner and had a suggestion.

“I said, ‘Rita, I don’t know hotels, but I do know retail,’ ” she said.

They had coffee and began discussing the concept that would become Peppertree Plaza. Brooke and Baker Construction President and CEO Barry Baker helped along the way, their company built the plaza, and now the Santillaneses and Bakers are partnering on hotel projects in Nampa, Idaho, and Bend, Oregon.

“It all grew from the art project,” Rita Santillanes said.

Meanwhile, the city was putting in the improvements at five spots getting on and off Division: signs, a statue of a Native American fishing, a retaining wall and other fencing. Baker said her firm consulted with city planners on the design of Peppertree Plaza, to match materials with the infrastructure work. The city’s project was funded in part by changes the Condon administration made in the way the city leases its property around the freeway, and it involved collaboration with both state and federal governments.

One example: Condon said he was forced to negotiate permission to use lilacs in the gateways, because they were not on the federal list of native plants for use in and around freeway projects.

The city work was finished a year ago this month; the plaza businesses opened three months ago. The city will be moving on to further gateways improvements in the coming years.

“This year, it’s Lincoln, and next year … it will be Division from Third Avenue to the river,” Condon said.

If Spokane’s new front door – and the collaborations that made it a reality – are any indication, those will be changes to look forward to.