Spokane Journal of Business

Conversion of Ridpath Hotel is underway downtown

First rental units to be finished in October

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Prominent Spokane developer Ron Wells says the ownership group he leads has obtained a building permit to convert most of the Ridpath Hotel into downtown workforce apartments, after a protracted effort to consolidate ownership of the Spokane landmark and secure financing for the project.

The renovation work is valued at $7.7 million, the permit shows.

Wells had earlier estimated the total project cost at upwards of $20 million, including the hotel acquisition costs.

“We’re full speed underway,” Wells says. “My partners and I own everything now. We finally got it back into local control after 10 years. We’re happy. We’re happy. We’re happy.”

The Ridpath Club Apartments LLC project will convert former hotel rooms into 206 apartment units on the second through 11th floors of the 13-story Ridpath Tower, at 515 W. Sprague, and the attached four-story east annex also known as the “Y” building, at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Stevens Street.

Wells’ company, Ron Wells Group LLC, is designing the project, and Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor.

“Baker has a superior job-delivery skill system,” Wells says. “They will have floors 10 and 11 ready to rent about the end of October. Thereafter, another roughly 40 apartments will be ready every two or three weeks, working their way from the top.”

Jon Spilker, Baker Construction’s manager on the Ridpath project, says the project will be completed in about a year.

One of the first project tasks is to remove the 1980s- and ’90s-era hotel furniture from the complex, he says.

“We’re getting existing hotel furniture out of the building,” he says. “A lot of charities are coming down to pick it up.”

Other initial work will include removal and abatement of lead paint and asbestos, Spilker says.

Each hotel room will be remodeled to include a kitchenette, he says, and carpet will be removed and replaced throughout the complex.

The project will include 147 micro and studio apartments with living space ranging from about 250 square feet to 500 square feet. The rest of the apartments will be one-bedroom units with up to 1,000 square feet of living space.

As a requirement of low-income housing tax credits approved by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to encourage investment in the project, 80 percent of the apartments will be reserved for tenants with annual income at or below 60 percent of the area median income, with the target market being workforce tenants.

For a single person, the maximum income to qualify for such housing is $28,000.

Wells says, however, the apartments won’t be typical low-income housing.

“Tenants have to have a job or verified income,” he says. 

Ridpath Club Apartments will set the minimum annual income for at least one resident in each regulated unit at $20,000.

“That’s a large portion of the workforce,” Wells says of the income range anticipated.

Kim Sample, of Spokane-based commercial real estate brokerage and management company NAI Black, will be the supervising manager for the property, Wells says.

“She will be rolling out pricing pretty soon on the first group of apartments that will be finished near the top,” he says.

A restaurant and other first-floor commercial space also is envisioned for the project.

Other amenities shown in preliminary plans for the Ridpath Club Apartments include restoring the marble swimming pool in the annex basement, and a fitness center tenant.

Wells says the 12th and 13th floors are being developed separately into four luxury condominium units, one of which he will own and occupy.

“My current plan is to move into Ridpath,” Wells says. “I had always intended to live in the top floor.”

At least one other condominium unit is reserved, he says.

The Ridpath has been closed since 2008, after its ownership was fragmented among many investors, some of whom represented competing proposals to redevelop the hotel.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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