Spokane Journal of Business

Legion Building plan crumbles

Company that had hoped to rehabilitate landmark in downtown deeds it back

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Total Concepts Real Estate Investments LLC, of Spokane, which bought and had hoped to restore the mostly vacant American Legion Building, a downtown landmark at 108 N. Washington, has deeded the 98-year-old structure back to its former owner, Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co.

Spokane County auditors records show that Spokane-based Metropolitan reacquired the six-story building last month through a deed in lieu of foreclosure, then transferred it to a subsidiary, Western United Life Assurance Co., by quitclaim deed.

The turn of events leaves the once prominent, but now deteriorating buildings future in limbo once again, although Summit Property Development, which manages Metropolitans real estate holdings, is seeking another buyer for the property, a Summit Property executive says.

Neither Joe Harwood nor Cory Colvin, who state corporation records identify as president and vice president of Total Concepts, could be reached immediately for comment.

Total Concepts bought the Legion Building from Metropolitan in 1995 for $930,000. Harwood had said he and his wife, Kristi, who were identified back then in a news release as the buyers of the property, expected to spend another $2 million rehabilitating it as a historic building. Their original plans called for retail space on the first floor, retail or office space on the second floor, office space on the third and fourth floors, residential condos on the fifth floor, and a condo for themselves on the partial sixth floor.

A year later, however, Harwood said he and his wife were revising their restoration plans, and were looking at turning most of the buildings main floor into indoor parking and its upper floors into residential condominiums.

We originally were holding out trying to get a major main-floor tenant, Joe Harwood said at the time. Thats not realistic. We just couldnt find one. Weve got to come up with a new plan or wait forever.

Since then, though, there has been little visible restoration work done, and the Harwoods have said nothing more about how or whether their plans for the building were progressing. The only new tenant known to have leased space in the building was a skateboard shop, which occupied a small main-floor space at the buildings northeast corner for a short time. The only tenant in the building currently is a street-side pawn shop, Time Jewelry & Loan Co., at 110 N. Washington. It has operated there for many years.

The building has more than 51,000 square feet of gross interior floor space, including the basement. Most of its floors range between about 7,200 and 7,800 square feet of space in size. Metropolitan bought the building about nine years ago, and studied the possibility of refurbishing it, but instead decided to sell it. Until 1995, however, it was unable to attract any offers that it deemed reasonable. It took a second look at proceeding with its own renovation, then did some minor restoration work to the outside of the building, before reaching the sale agreement with the Harwoods.

The building opened in 1901, and initially housed the Spokane Club. It was sold to a land company and renamed the Chamber of Commerce Building after the Spokane Club moved into its own building at the corner of Riverside and Monroe. In 1926, the structure was sold to the Metals Bank & Trust Co. and renamed the Metals Building. American Legion Post No. 9 bought the building in 1946 and occupied it until 1973. Its commonly referred to now simply as the Legion Building.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Harwood said when he and his wife bought the structure that he would seek to have it placed also on the local historic register. He said later, though, that he had postponed pursuing the local designation until the ultimate usage of the building had been determined.

Kim Crompton
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