Washington Trust Bank has given downtown Spokane a welcome boost by recently purchasing the vacant Executive Court building that once was part of the Ridpath Hotel complex, with plans to convert the mostly four-story structure into office space to accommodate its continuing growth.
Its purchase of the building at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Stevens Street, just south of the Ridpath and connected to it by a skywalk, follows nicely on the heels of developer Ron Wells’ plans to convert the long-vacant Ridpath into a vibrant residential and commercial complex.
Wells heads Wells & Co., which designed the planned $17.9 million project. He has told the Journal that it will include 201 apartments, six luxury condominiums, and street-level commercial space at the former hotel, located at 515 W. Sprague.
By itself, that project—assuming it proceeds as envisioned—will fix one of the downtown area’s most glaring eyesores. Washington Trust’s repurposing of the adjacent Executive Court building would provide what might be viewed as the icing on the cake.
Wells’ project is expected to include another key structure, the four-story east annex, which is attached to the Ridpath tower and occupies the northwest corner of First Avenue and Stevens Street.
Washington Trust Bank paid $2.6 million to investor Scott Taylor to acquire the Executive Court building. Taylor had been part of an investor group that had bought the structure with the intent of turning the 77 hotel rooms there into 50 condo units, but the recession sidetracked those plans.
The Ridpath Hotel closed in August 2008, lamentably ending a reported reign as the oldest continuously operating full-service hotel in Spokane. In its heyday, it employed several hundred people, adding significantly to downtown’s vitality. 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.
For many years, the Ridpath straddled First Avenue between Stevens and Howard, with its skywalk—the first in Spokane—linking the hotel with what used to be called the Ridpath Motor Inn, then the Executive Court, on the south side of First.
A two-story middle section of the Executive Court, to which the skywalk connects, included a main-floor ballroom and conference rooms, with an open deck and swimming pool above it. The hotel rooms were located in a four-story, outer U-shaped section of the building that surrounds the middle section.
Washington Trust says it needs more space than what’s available in its financial center at 717 W. Sprague, two blocks west of the Ridpath complex. It also is leasing some space for workers in other buildings downtown.
The bank hasn’t divulged details for its planned renovation of the Executive Court building to absorb some of its downtown growth, which also is good to see. Even so, its purchase of the building is an exciting step toward a long-needed facelift in a key portion of the city’s core.
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