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.