Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane PFD starts design work for convention center skywalk

Project meant to enable attendees to reach hotel, garage across street

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The Spokane Public Facilities District says it recently began the design process for an envisioned skywalk that would be constructed over Spokane Falls Boulevard to connect the Spokane Convention Center to a planned hotel that's being built across the street.

    Kevin Twohig, the district's CEO, says the design for the 112-foot-long skywalk is expected to go through a city of Spokane review process that also requires Spokane City Council approval. Integrus Architecture PS, of Spokane, is designing the skywalk.

    Following the city's review process, the PFD expects that construction could begin in the first quarter of 2015, Twohig says. He says cost estimates for the skywalk are still being calculated.

    The Worthy Group, a company formed here by Walt and Karen Worthy, started work in October to erect a 15-story, 721-room convention center hotel and a 900-space parking garage, across Spokane Falls Boulevard from the INB Performing Arts Center.

    In September, The Worthy Group bought the city block where the hotel is being developed, known as the South Block, from the PFD for $6.7 million. The block is located between Washington and Bernard streets, and the hotel is scheduled to be completed there in the spring of 2016. In documents filed with the city of Spokane, Worthy estimated the construction cost at $50 million.

    Scott Chesney, the city's director of planning and development, says the department also has asked the hotel design team to plan for a future possible connection to the larger downtown skywalk system.

    "We have asked the hotel design team to make accommodations for a skywalk to the west," Chesney says. "There won't be anything constructed right now. The hotel structure will be prepared for a future skywalk that would cross Washington Street and ultimately into the system of skywalks downtown."

    However, Chesney says structures to the west currently aren't part of the skywalk system and wouldn't accommodate such a connection.

     "There is no way to know when that connection would be done," Chesney says. "It would depend on future development."

    Chesney also says that for the PFD's planned skyway, the city department expects to receive a land use application in January, followed by the design during this spring. He says the city council needs to vote on the skywalk because it would cross city right of way.

     Separately, the PFD says construction crews recently started installing foundations for a planned $55 million addition to the Spokane Convention Center. The addition is expected to be finished in December 2014.

    The design-build team of Garco/ALSC/LMN is constructing the 90,000-square-foot convention center addition with exhibit, meeting, and support space to the north side of the exhibit hall, which is at the northwest corner of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Division Street.

    Meanwhile, workers also recently finished infrastructure improvements under a 900-foot section of the Centennial Trail, near the convention center expansion area, as part of the overall convention center expansion project.  

    The upgrades included installing new sewer and water lines and an electrical system under the trail to serve the convention center. The trail section was closed briefly during the construction work that began earlier this fall, but recently reopened to the public.

    Crews also removed contaminated soil as part of the trail work and widened and repaved the trail section, from the east side of Division Street Bridge west to the King Cole Bridge in Riverfront Park.

    A river shoreline rehabilitation project, funded as part of the overall convention center expansion, still is under way and includes removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native trees and plants. In addition, the shoreline is being stabilized to slope more gently to the water.

    The shoreline portion of the project also will include installation of an artistic metal railing. Twohig says the footings for the railings are installed, and that crews are expected to finish the work next summer or early next fall.

Treva Lind
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