As he negotiates the sale of his property to the city of Spokane for its planned Riverside Avenue extension project, the owner of longtime Spokane flooring wholesaler InterDecor Inc. has bought a new building and plans a $1 million-plus project to renovate it with hopes of moving his business there by early next year.
The planned move is one of necessity, says owner Larry Johnson. He plans to move InterDecor to the building he bought at 102 S. Spokane Street, about two blocks south of its 40-plus-year home at 44 W. Riverside.
The city of Spokane's planned extension of Riverside, which it's considering renaming Martin Luther King Jr. Way, will require demolishing InterDecor's 46,000-square-foot building, which sits just north of the BNSF Railway Co. tracks, a block east of Division Street.
The new location is south across the tracks and Sprague Avenue, but still in the University District.
Johnson says he thinks the city's Riverside project and other proposed improvements in the U-District will benefit the area, but he's concerned about the short-term effects of a move on the established business, which sells floor coverings for many commercial projects in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
"My goal is to stay in business," he says.
The company's new facility, which it bought from Qwest Communications International Inc., of Denver, and plans to renovate to accommodate a showroom and office space in a process that could take months, is about half the size of its current three-story facility, Johnson says.
"It's like going from a size 12 shoe to a size 6 shoe, with the same foot," he says.
He says InterDecor likely will seek to sell some of the inventory it currently stocks in its large building, and that the city could be required to store for up to a year excess inventory that InterDecor doesn't have space for at its new location. Johnson says the Washington state Department of Transportation is working with InterDecor on the relocation.
He says that because the building on Riverside is old, most people can't appreciate what a substantial building it is from the outside.
"Everyone thinks these are dilapidated facilities until they come in and see what we've got here," he says. Since the company is a wholesale distributor and mill representative for flooring manufacturers, most people have never been inside its showroom there.
"We have a very nice showroom facility that caters to the architect-design trade," he says.
He says it's crucial for his business to be located near downtown, because architects and designers, many of whom are based in or near the downtown core, visit InterDecor's showroom frequently as they create job specifications for commercial projects here.
If something that InterDecor distributes is specified in a project, flooring companies that become subcontractors for the job will buy the products through InterDecor, Johnson says.
Johnson says he currently is in negotiations with the city, in hopes that he and the city can reach a fair compensation agreement for the city's purchase of his property.
Johnson says he's hopeful that a potentially costly and protracted condemnation process can be avoided.
In the meantime, he says, he now owns two buildings. Johnson says he had been seeking suitable new digs for the company for some time, in anticipation of the proposed project, and when he learned recently that the nearby Qwest building was to be sold, he felt he needed to act quickly. Qwest stopped using the building as an installations and maintenance garage in May, consolidating its technicians at another Spokane facility, says Qwest spokesman Bob Gravely.
Johnson says he doesn't know yet just how much it will cost to renovate the new facility, but he believes that the project will cost well over $1 million. Johnson says his longtime customer and friend, Spokane developer Walt Worthy, has offered to oversee renovation of the new location.
Craig Soerhen and Mike Livingston, both of Spokane-based Kiemle & Hagood Co., handled the transaction, Johnson says.
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE