Spokane Journal of Business

Revival starts in pocket of downtown

Several projects gear up near Third, Washington

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-—LeAnn Bjerken
Josh Hissong is involved in remodeled an old tavern space on the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Washington Street.
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The neighborhood around Spokane’s Third Avenue and Washington Street has been abuzz with construction activity these past few months, as several businesses have begun remodeling projects there. 

Business owners say the projects have the potential to bring new life to an area that has lost some of its appeal over the years. 

John Allen, owner of Vino! A Wine Shop, located at 222 S. Washington, says he’s pleased to see the new developments and investment taking place in the neighborhood. 

“I’m happy to see this neighborhood moving from what you might call tavern-centric to more business-centric,” he says. “With new businesses coming in and remodeling these buildings, it’s going to have a more upscale feeling.”

Two of the current projects in the area involve the renovation of older, multitenant structures, while a third proposes updating an apartment building.  

Don Mitchell, a Realtor with Selkirk Real Estate LLC, says he represents DCJ Investments LLC, of Spokane, the new owner of one of those buildings, a multitenant retail structure at the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Washington Street. 

“DCJ purchased the buildings in November,” says Mitchell. “It’s still early in the process, so the design team is working now and we expect to start the exterior remodel in mid-March.”

Mitchell says the project came about after his client, Deborah Lang Westwood, principal of DCJ Investments, sold the Seehorn–Lang building at 165 S. Lincoln to Avista Development Corp. last Nov. 30. 

“The Seehorn-Lang building has been owned by Deborah’s family for generations,” says Mitchell. “Selling it allowed Avista to continue developing that property, while providing her the opportunity to find another property in Spokane to acquire and develop.”

The property at 327 W. Third that Lang-Westwood acquired includes two buildings with a total of about 6,700-square feet of space that collectively are known as the DeCaro Center, though the new owner is calling it the Third and Washington Building. 

Mitchell says the site’s original one-story building, which currently is vacant and most recently housed The Man Shop barbershop, was built in 1976 and fronts Third Avenue. A two-story addition on the south side of that building was constructed in 2006 and faces Washington Street. 

According to Mitchell, DCJ Investments plans to modernize the building’s exterior, as well as some of its interior space.

Mitchell says Revamp Panels LLC, a Spokane architectural panel maker that has expanded its products and services into commercial real estate and development, is designing a façade that will make the property more modern-looking. 

The exterior design will include metal panels, LED backlighting, reclaimed wood, and fresh modern paint colors, as well as new signage with the name “Third & Washington” at the building’s front corner.

Following the exterior remodel, Mitchell says the second part of the project will focus on remodeling the 1,400-square-foot interior of the former Man Shop building.

“We will be transforming the former Man Shop location into a modern space utilizing the exposed trusses, and sections of exposed concrete block as part of the remodel, with the anticipation of finding a nice eatery or gastropub to lease the space,” he says. 

Mitchell says three retailers currently occupy the building’s two-story addition: Geico, Cricket Wireless, and Sublime Vapors. He says at least two of those tenants will continue leasing their current spaces, and DCJ Investments also hopes to begin leasing executive suite office spaces located on the building’s second floor. 

As the project is still in its early stages, Mitchell said a cost estimate for the project has yet to be determined.  

Meanwhile, Josh Hissong, co-owner of Spokane architectural firm Hurtado|Hissong Design Group LLC, says his firm has begun a remodeling project at the northwest corner of Third and Washington, just south of Vino! A Wine Shop. 

Hissong says HDG purchased the 7,000-square-foot multitenant building at 230 S. Washington last June, with the intention of remodeling it into a new headquarters. Chris Siemens, of Windermere Real Estate/City Group LLC, handled the transaction. 

Hissong says the firm currently is located in about 1,000 square feet of space at 522 W. First, but only about 600 square feet of that is usable workspace.

“We’d been looking for a new space for a while and needed about four times the square footage we’re currently working with,” he says. “The new building is the right size and has a good corner presence in an area of town that is starting to really come around.” 

According to Hissong, renovations on the building, which formerly housed Carr’s Corner Tavern as well as several other tenants, started in November and have continued through the winter months. 

Vandervert Con-struction Inc., of Spokane, is the general contractor for the project, which is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $500,000, and will include interior and exterior remodeling of the building’s six tenant spaces. 

Hissong says the building’s exterior will be covered in a black polished plaster, with new storefronts and cedar facades at the entries of each business, and the building also will get a new insulated roof. 

He says interior remodeling will include adding energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as new electrical systems to each new tenant space. 

According to Hissong, new lighting will be added outside, and the building’s rear parking lot will be made into a park area for tenants, complete with grass, decks, and a covered barbeque area. 

Hissong says HDG Architecture, Propaganda Creative Advertising, and Faber Design+Build will occupy three of the building’s tenant spaces, totaling 3,900 square feet. 

“Propaganda and Faber are two existing companies that HDG has purchased over the last few years. One is a fast-growing advertising agency, and the other is the new name of a custom millwork company that we’ve used on most of our projects over the last six years,” he says.  

Hissong says the lobby for all three of those businesses will be located at the remodeled building’s southeast corner in what formerly was the Carr’s Corner Tavern space. 

“The HDG space is getting a very contemporary backdrop to the original grit of the building,” he says. “It will house 20 employees, two large conference rooms, a large customer area, and an interior “park-like” area for employees to relax and take a break.”

Hissong says two of the building’s three current tenants, Paradigm Skate Shop and Twisted Raven Tattoo, also will move to newly finished spaces. 

He says Paradigm will occupy 1,300 square feet of space, one bay down from its former spot at the northeast end of the building. He says Twisted Raven will occupy 800 square feet, along the building’s southwest side, also one bay down from its current location, which will be filled by the building’s lone other tenant, Right Mind Printing.

Hissong says HDG expects to move into the new space early this month, and its staff is excited to make use of the larger space. 

“We started with four people and now have 14 full time and will have up to 17 when we move to the new place,” he says. “We couldn’t hire more people (at the firm’s current location) as there was just no more room.”

Separately, a third project is taking shape at an apartment building at 410 W. Third, just west of what will be the new HDG space. 

Chris Batten, owner of RenCorp Realty LLC, of Spokane, bought the three-story, 7,000-square-foot structure, formerly known as the Danmore Apartments, last May.

 “We bought it with the intention of remodeling, and creating 32 micro-style apartments with a modern, contemporary feel,” says Batten. “We also wanted these units to be available at a reasonable price point, below $600 or so.” 

Batten says he plans to rename the building the SoDo Commons, and adds that it will include a courtyard area, parking, and other amenities. 

He says he and his partners hope to begin construction on the project in the next 30 days, with units ready for occupation by early fall. 

 “We wanted this to be a kind of workforce housing project,” says Batten. “This property is an intriguing location, being between downtown and the hospitals, so we’ll be able to gain interested residents who work in both areas.”

Denny LaRue and his wife Lainey, owners of Lolo Boutique at nearby 319 W. Second, say the changes in the neighborhood are steps in the right direction.

“These projects will give the area a much-needed facelift,” says Denny LaRue. 

LaRue says plans are also in the works to create a new parking lot at the corner of Second Avenue and Washington Street. The space is currently a vacant lot, following this past fall’s demolition of a building there that formerly housed the Mayfair Café. 

“The additional parking will definitely be a bonus,” says LaRue.

He says this year is the couple’s third as owners of Lolo, a women’s clothing and accessory shop that has been in its current space for just over 10 years now. 

LaRue says the couple expanded the store last year into an adjoining space, adding a home gift and décor department.

He says businesses in the area are making an effort to create a safer and more inviting place for people to visit and live. 

“I’m hoping the new projects in the neighborhood signal an upcoming renaissance for Second Avenue, similar to upgrades we’ve seen along West Main in the past decade,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to continuing to see positive changes.”

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken is the most recent addition to the Journal's news team. A poet, cat lover and antique enthusiast, LeAnn is also an Eastern Washington University alum.

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