Spokane Journal of Business

Downtowner Motel eyed for apartment conversion

Developers plan $2.5M renovations for property

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A Spokane real estate team plans to transform the defunct Downtowner Motel, at 165 S. Washington, into a 45-unit apartment building.

Dallas Lightner, one of the owners of LT Real Estate Investments LLC, which does business as LT Real Estate & Property Management, says no contractor has yet been selected for the project, nor has a financing source been identified. Lightner says the planned work on the two-story, 15,810-square-foot building is valued at about $2.5 million.

“We’re going to modernize the property,” Lightner says. “We’ll redo the bathrooms and flooring. We’re going to install kitchenettes into every unit.” 

Lightner says he and co-owner Ryan Towner likely will finish the bidding process and choose a contractor for the project within the next month.

The 43-unit motel’s history may have been one reason other developers were hesitant to acquire the property, Lightner claims.

“It was on the market for five or six months,” Lightner says. “A lot of local people either overlooked it or didn’t want to touch it because of its poor reputation, but we feel that block is going to continue to improve.”

The building has been at the center of some criminal acts in recent years, according to previously published media reports. In 2015, a woman was strangled to death by her boyfriend at the motel, and later that year, another woman was stabbed in the arm.

In March 2017, police recovered several stolen firearms and thousands of rounds of stolen live ammunition from a room in which two former convicted felons had been staying. 

That same month, the city of Spokane issued a notice of violation to the motel after neighboring business owners raised concerns about the amount of garbage surrounding the area; litter crews working to clean up the refuse witnessed people throwing garbage out of the windows of the motel.

Lightner says he and Towner decided The Downtowner was a good opportunity to dip into the world of real estate development.

“We want to do our own development, be our own principal in the deal,” he says. “The location is awesome and the fact that it has parking—it’s pretty rare downtown to get something like that.”

Lightner says the property includes 38 parking stalls. He says he and Towner plan to add laundry facilities, a package receiving room from which residents can collect packages stored securely in lockers, on-site bicycle storage, and some communal space. They’re also considering installing more security measures.

“We’re trying to see if we can put a gate at the entrance to make it even more exclusive and secure and private,” Lightner says. “We’re talking with the city about the fire code on that.”

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