Spokane Journal of Business

Volunteers of America plans $12 million Hope House in downtown Spokane

Low-income apartments, homeless women’s shelter eyed at Linnie’s Thai site

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Volunteers of America Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho plans to construct a 60-unit low-income apartment building with a shelter for homeless women downtown at 1301 W. Third, the current site of Linnie’s Thai Cuisine restaurant, says Fawn Schott, VOA president and CEO.

While a predevelopment application for the low-income housing project estimates the total cost for a planned six-story building at $15 million, Schott says the plan is being downsized to a roughly $12 million structure.

“We will be limiting it to four stories so that we can get it built at a lower cost,” Schott says. 

Chris Weiland, principal architect at Architecture All Forms, the design firm for the project, says the $12 million figure might not be the end total cost, as per-unit and other construction costs will be determined by the contractor. No contractor has yet been selected to construct the project. 

“We’ve just sort of allocated a loose budgetary estimate,” Weiland says. “Once we select the contractor, then we can break it down more precisely.”

VOA hopes to begin constructing its new Hope House next spring. The 2,500-square-foot restaurant building on the site will be razed to make room for the housing project.

That building currently houses Linnie’s Thai Cuisine, but many longtime Spokane residents might remember it better as The Shack Restaurant. According to a 2004 Spokesman-Review article, The Shack closed in 2003 after being in business for more than 70 years. The S-R article says Linnie’s Thai owners bought the building in 2004 for $300,000. 

The owners of Linnie’s Thai Cuisine could not be reached immediately for comment.

The original predevelopment application for the Hope House, filed May 22, shows plans for 61 apartment units, a women’s shelter, and administrative offices within the building.

Weiland also says those plans have changed. Now, 60 living units would be located on the second, third, and fourth floors. In the modified plans, VOA is considering eliminating administrative offices, which were included in the original preliminary site plan.

The envisioned women’s shelter originally was planned for the basement level, but Weiland says current plans call for the shelter to occupy the first floor of the building. Each level would have about 12,500 square feet of floor space.

Schott says funding for the structure would come from several sources.

“We’re applying to the state for low income tax credits in June, and if awarded, we will then move into final stages of development with a construction date in spring of 2019 and completion at the end of 2019,” Schott says. 

In addition, Schott says Veterans of America has a $500,000 commitment from the state capital budget. 

“Premera Blue Cross also came in with a $1 million capital investment, and we will be applying for the city home dollars as well. The city annually has funding available to promote affordable housing so they open up a funding round that the local nonprofits can apply for.”

VOA’s Hope House here currently is located at 111 W. Third in a four-story, 20,000-square-foot building. Schott says the organization will retain the building; the shelter will be moved to the new facility, and Schott says VOA plans to rehabilitate existing units and add affordable housing units. 

Schott says the new facility will triple the women’s shelter’s capacity.

“Our current Hope House turns away 15 to 20 women a night,” she says. “We are very excited to triple our capacity to 120 beds in the women’s shelter.”

According to the Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho website, Hope House has been operated by VOA since 2001. In general, however, the organization has been serving homeless populations for more than 120 years, Schott says. 

“We focus on homeless services for youth ages 13 all the way up to adults,” Schott says. “We are all about housing stability for individuals and overcoming barriers to ending homelessness.” 

Virginia Thomas
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