Two weeks after buying the 17-story Metropolitan Financial Center in the citys core, Spokane developer Walt Worthy is considering constructing a 10-story hotel-and-parking structure on a neighboring site.
As envisioned, the new structure would include five floors of parking with 400 slots, topped by a five-story hotel with between 150 and 200 guest rooms and a large ballroom.
Were looking strongly at it at this point, says Worthy, who along with his wife, Karen, renovated the historic Davenport Hotel and re-opened it in July 2002. I know were going to do the garage, and were probably going to do the hotel part.
In addition to buying the Metropolitan high rise, Worthy bought for $1 million a half-acre site at the southeast corner of First Avenue and Post Street with plans to build a parking garage there. Such a structure would be across Post from the Davenport Hotel parking structure that Worthy built to accommodate guests of the venerable hotel and would be a block west of the Metropolitan Financial Center.
Worthy says he has looked into converting part of the Metropolitan tower into hotel rooms, but now is looking more seriously at the site thats closer to the Davenport for additional rooms.
More hotel rooms are warranted, Worthy says, because the Davenport sometimes is full and has to turn away guests. Also, he says hed like to be able to accommodate larger functions than currently can be held at the Davenport, and would want to top a hotel-parking structure with a 15,000-square-foot to 20,000-square-foot ballroom for that purpose. The Davenports largest meeting space is the Grand Pennington Ballroom, which includes about 6,200 square feet of floor space.
Worthy says hes meeting with engineers about the envisioned project this week, and it might take more than a month to make a decision on whether to move forward with the hotel portion of that project. He says he doesnt have estimates yet on what it might cost to complete such a project. The parking garage project would go ahead with or without the hotel rooms, he says.
At the Metropolitan Financial Center, Worthy plans to start work soon on interior and exterior improvements that likely will cost in the millions of dollars. He says he plans to revamp elevator lobbies on each floor and take care of maintenance that had been deferred. Hes looking at improvements to the buildings exterior as well, and might change the color of the big white structure.
In terms of potential uses for the tower, Worthy says hes considering a number of options in addition to leased office space. Other possibilities include a mix of leased space, commercial condominiums, and residential condos.
He says he currently is negotiating with a bank that is considering taking the main floor of the building, and additional potential tenants for upper-floor space. Worthy says, though, that nothing has been signed, and the plan still is flexible.
Its critical that we get some tenants in there soon, Worthy says. It is going to get lonesome making all those payments by ourselves.
The 178,000-square-foot Metropolitan building is largely vacant, he says. Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., of Spokane, continues to lease the structures 10th floor, and a couple of smaller tenants take space on lower floors.
Metropolitan has downsized considerably and has shed some of its real estate holdings after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last January.
The Worthys and a company they formed, called Spokane Acquisition LLC, bought a $12 million note on the Metropolitan Financial Center from IDS Life Insurance, and Metropolitan deeded the building to them in lieu of foreclosure.
Worthy declines to disclose how much he paid for the note.
In addition to reopening the Davenport, the Worthys have developed or redeveloped a number of office buildings in the Spokane market, including the sprawling Rock Pointe Corporate Center, just north of downtown.
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