Spokane Journal of Business

Paulsen Center being sold

Historic high-rise would be Joel DiamondÂ’s second recent downtown purchase here

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Joel Diamond, chairman and CEO of Seattle-based Diamond Parking Inc., which has substantial real estate holdings here, is buying the historic Paulsen Center downtown from Joe and Mary Dinnison.

The transaction, which is expected to close by Nov. 1, would be the Diamond familys second downtown purchase from the Dinnisons this year and its fourth overall from them, says Patrick L. Kenney Sr., president and broker of longtime Spokane real estate agency F.S. Barrett & Co., which has handled all of those transactions.

Joel Diamond acquired the three-building Symons Block property, just west of Cavanaughs Ridpath Hotel, from the Dinnisons this spring for more than $1.6 million. The earlier transactions, both in the spring of 1994 and with a combined value of about $600,000, involved mixed-use buildings at 237 W. Riverside and 915-917 W. Broadway. All of the buildings are older structures that the Dinnisons had rehabilitated.The Paulsen Center, located on the south side of Riverside Avenue between Washington and Stevens streets, includes an 11-story building constructed in 1909 and a 16-story addition built in 1929. It and the U.S. Bank Building, formerly known as the Old National Bank Building, are the most dominant older office buildings on Riverside, Spokanes main downtown boulevard.
nbsp;Its one of our classic buildings, really, says Kenney, who coincidentally began his real estate career working in the Paulsen for F.S. Barrett in 1953. To eventually end up selling it is a real plum for me, he says.
nbsp;He declines to say how much Diamond has agreed to pay for the Paulsen, except that its somewhat less than the $11 million original asking price. The Dinnisons bought the building for $3.7 million in 1994 and then spent about $2 million upgrading it. Improvements included upgrades of the buildings common areas, bathrooms, corridors, lobby, exterior windows, and lighting. The Spokane City Council approved placing the Paulsen on the Spokane Register of Historic Places in November 1996. Kenney says the building is about 87 percent leased.
nbsp;The Dinnisons couldnt be reached for comment about what prompted their decision to put the building on the market. However, in some of their downtown real estate dealings to date here, they have shown more interest in buying, rehabilitating, and then selling older buildings than in holding onto them as cash-flow properties.
nbsp;Kenney says the Dinnisons are looking for other downtown properties they can buy and upgrade with proceeds from the Paulsen sale.
nbsp;The 81-year-old Symons Block, which the couple sold about three months ago, includes a renovated four-story building that extends along the east side of Howard Street between Sprague and First avenues, and two adjoining two-story buildings, one on Sprague and the other one on First, just east of the larger building.
nbsp;Ground floor retail tenants in the four-story building, which has about 40,000 square feet of office and retail space, include Spokane Shaver, Northwest Map & Travel Book Center, and Lorinda Knight Gallery. A large restaurant space at the southwest corner of the building that most recently housed Leonardos Bistro now is vacant. Jimmyz Newstand & Espresso Cafe occupies the main floor of the two-story building on Sprague, and a political-campaign committee is using the main floor of the two-story building on First.
nbsp;Kiemle & Hagood Co., of Spokane, is continuing to manage both the Paulsen Center and the Symons Block.
nbsp;Kenney says the Diamond real estate transactions here are being handled through Rainier Properties, which is a real-estate affiliate of Diamond Parking. Diamond Parking owns or manages thousands of parking spaces in the Spokane area, a large number of which are downtown.
nbsp;Joel Diamond is the son of Josef Joe Diamond, now 91, who operated Diamond Parking for many years and is well-known in the region. Kenney, who has been dealing with the Diamond family on real-estate matters here for about 35 years, says Joel Diamond last month was named chairman and CEO of the company, replacing his father, and Joels son, Jonathon, was named president and chief operating officer. The company was formed by Joe Diamonds brother, Louis, in 1922.

Kim Crompton
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