The top two floors of the 13-story Ridpath Hotel tower downtown and the entire four-story annex just east of the tower are scheduled to be offered at auction May 1, in a nontraditional marketing approach, after developers' visions for both properties failed to materialize.
The properties are being offered for sale in a sealed-bid format by Lakeland, Fla.-based Higgenbotham Auctioneers International Ltd. Inc. NAI Black, of Spokane, is advertising the properties through an accelerated marketing program its worldwide affiliate network, NAI Global, began offering recently. The program is designed to help property owners and financial institutions dispose of troubled and surplus real estate assets quickly. (See related story page A9.)
The scheduled auction represents the latest setback for a once prominent hospitality property that had been hurt by declining occupancy, management upheaval, and ownership fluxas well as an increasingly competitive local lodging marketover the last several decades.
NAI Black sales and leasing agent Marc McLees, who along with colleague Jon Jeffreys is handling the Ridpath property offering, says they're "very excited" about the auction because of the potential offers that the national exposure could generate.
The Ridpath properties are among 54 properties nationwide, with a combined value of more than $158 million, that will be offered May 1 through the NAI Global accelerated marketing program, called Commercial Property PowerSale. Forty-six of those properties will be sold in a live online auction, with the remaining propertiesincluding those hereto be sold through sealed bid.
NAI Black representatives say they expect to include a number of other commercial properties here in the next PowerSale auction, on June 11a sign that owners are looking for alternative ways to liquidate under-utilized or nonperforming properties in a still sluggish national real estate market.
McLees and Jeffreys are promoting the 12th and 13th floors of the hotel tower, at 514 W. First, as a good location for upscale two-story condominiums, and the annex, at 502 W. First, as being well-suited for a boutique hotel.
McLees says the joint owners of the two properties, Poachers Rock LLC and Sun Devil Investments LLC, both of Spokane, have set undisclosed reserve prices, or the lowest prices that they will consider for the properties, which are being marketed separately. If those reserves are met, the sales of the properties would be completed within 30 days, because all prospective bidders who have registered to participate in the program have been prequalified and have put up preliminary financing, he says.
The two floors in the Ridpath have a combined total of about 14,000 square feet of floor space, and offer panoramic views of the surrounding area. An upscale restaurant called Ankeny's formerly occupied the top floor for many years. The adjacent annex, at 502 W. First, includes 45 fully furnished executive hotel suites, 6,200 square feet of street-level retail space, and a 6,300-square-foot lower level with a historic marble pool, the flier says.
The ideal use for the upper floors would be a boutique hotel, McLees says. "It's set up perfectly. The rooms are the right size," he says.
Poachers Rock bought the annex and the top two Ridpath floors in the spring and fall of last year, respectively, with plans for hospitality-related and residential-condo projects. After buying the annex, though, it put the top three floors of that building up for sale, while continuing to pursue plans to lease or sell the ground floor and basement of the building to up to four tenants.
Another NAI Black agent, Grant Person, told the Journal last October that Poachers Rock was mulling several concepts for uses that might help it market the space on the top two Ridpath tower floors. One concept involved opening a top-floor restaurant where Ankeny's was located and having something affiliated with the restaurant on part or all of the floor below.
Person also said that a couple of out-of-town hotel developers were looking at a possible total revamp of the Ridpath building to fit a new hotel concept, but since then there have been no further reports that such a plan might be advancing.
Las Vegas hotelier Douglas Da Silva bought the roughly 200-room hotel in 2006, and Washvada Investments LLC, a company that Da Silva at least for a time was managing, still owns the bulk of the tower, McLees says.
The Ridpath Hotel closed last August, ending a reported reign as the oldest continuously operating full-service hotel in Spokane. Col. William Ridpath, a pioneer statesman, opened the hotel in the early 1900s, and the current hotel tower was built in about 1950. The annex was built much earlier, in 1908, and at one time housed the YMCA here.
The hotel employed several hundred people during its heyday. It was hurt by anemic convention sales during the mid-1980s, but got a boost late in that decade when then-owner WestCoast Hotels Inc., spent $2.5 million renovating it and launched an advertising blitz to try to generate new business.
For many years, the Ridpath straddled First Avenue between Stevens and Howard, with its skywalkthe first in Spokanelinking the hotel with what used to be called the Ridpath Motor Inn, then the Executive Court, on the south side of First. A Spokane development company bought that building about three years ago with plans to convert it into residential condos and retail space, but later shelved that project, due to rising construction costs, and put the building up for sale.
The only business currently operating in the main hotel building is a lounge that owns 5,800 square feet of floor space on the ground floor, McLees says.
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