Lilac Bloomsday Association, the nonprofit that organizes and stages the big annual running race in downtown Spokane each May, will be consolidating its operations into one building that's to be constructed in the city's West Central area.
Pro Builders, of Spokane, started site preparation this month for the estimated $1.5 million project at 1414 N. Belt, on the northeast corner of Belt Street and Sinto Avenue. In the next few weeks, once a building permit has been approved, the contractor expects to start erecting an almost 14,000-square-foot structure there.
"We're kind of spread out, and the plan is to consolidate everything in this new building," says Don Kardong, Bloomsday race director. "It will be a warehouse, and we'll also have our offices there and a meeting room."
Bloomsday bought the vacant lot, which is a little over half an acre in size, for $125,000 last fall, Kardong says. Labar Architecture Inc., of Spokane, along with Pro Builders on a consulting basis, designed the building.
Pro Builders will erect the pre-engineered two-story structure, which will have a reception area, offices, meeting room space, and about 7,500 square feet for storage. Chad McDonald, of Pro Builders, says the lower office area will be fully finished, but an upper floor area will be roughed in for a tenant to lease it or for future use.
Once the new office and warehouse facility is completed, which is expected by spring, the Bloomsday association will move there. The nonprofit plans to sell two buildings it owns and uses nowa headquarters structure at 1610 W. Riverside, and a building at 1859 W. Broadway that it uses mostly for warehouse storage and data entry.
Kardong says the association had saved some money in a building fund and also got a loan from Washington Trust Bank to pay for the new building. It plans to use the proceeds from the sale of the two properties it's vacating to help cover overall expenses.
"Given the way the market is now, we may have to lease them for awhile, but we've always had good interest in those buildings from different parties, so we expect they will be sellable," Kardong says.
Started in 1977 and held the first Sunday in May each year, the Lilac Bloomsday Run is a 12-kilometer race that starts in downtown Spokane, winds its way through West Spokane, and ends at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge. The race typically draws more than 50,000 runners and walkers.
In 1994, Lilac Bloomsday built the 4,200-square-foot, three-level building along Riverside and moved its offices and some stored items there. Kardong is the only year-round Bloomsday employee, while an office assistant works for about half of the year there. He says Bloomsday's main office is used year-round, and volunteers consistently use office and meeting spaces for the event's planning and race follow-up activities.
The Broadway building, which the association started using in 2001, has about 1,600 square feet of space, Kardong says. The nonprofit has used the building for storage as well as computer and race data entry functions, although Kardong says about 80 percent of race entries are now done online.
"It's complicated for us to be spread out the way we are now," he says. "We want to be in one place so we're not wondering, did we store that here or there, and when we're putting the data into the computer system, we have that at the same place as our offices so we can be more efficient."
The nonprofit needs to store a number of items used each year along the Bloomsday course, such as fencing, the public announcement systems, garbage cans, and signage.
Kardong says he expects that much of the building's exterior work will be done by November, and the association may use some of the space early next year, but that the association most likely will complete the move after the Bloomsday race next spring.
He also says the new building will have a reception area and public hours to accommodate those who want to buy souvenirs, or who have questions.
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