Jensen-Byrd Article in the Journal of Business:
Local News The issue dated May 18, 2006
Plan for Jensen-Byrd property evolves Printer-Friendly Version
Five-phase development would also include three buildings, parking garage
By Rocky Wilson
The former Jensen-Byrd warehouse building east of downtown is part of a five-acre area to be redeveloped
The joint venture chosen to redevelop the former Jensen-Byrd warehouse property in the Riverpoint Higher Education Park is working on a master plan that now includes erecting four new structures in addition to rehabilitating the big warehouse. Work on the first new building could get started by next spring.
Called Riverpoint Plaza LLC, the joint venture was formed by Robert B. Goebel General Contractor Inc. and Northwest Architectural Co., both of Spokane. It was selected in April from among four applicants that sought to redevelop the five-acre property, located south of Spokane Falls Boulevard and east of Pine Street. Riverpoint Plaza initially had proposed building seven new buildings there, but in its tentative new 10-year plan, it now intends to build four somewhat larger ones, says Bruce Blackmer, president of Northwest Architectural.
Cost estimates for the overall project, which is expected to be done in five phases, haven’t been determined yet.
Blackmer says the joint venture hopes to have a master plan for the proposed mixed-use development drafted by the end of the summer and to start work on the first new building there, a planned six-story, about 120,000-square-foot structure, next spring.
That building would be located near the southeast corner of Spokane Falls and Pine and would include retail, office, and laboratory space, he says. It likely would be ready for occupancy in late 2007 or early 2008, and would include ground-level parking, Blackmer says.
“We would design for about 18,000 square feet of space to 20,000 square feet of space per floor in the first building, and ideally have single-floor tenants,” he says. “Yet, we’ll make the design to allow for multiple tenants per floor.”
The project plans will have to be approved by Washington State University, which owns the property. It’s expected that the joint venture would own the buildings on the property and lease the ground from WSU for 55 years, after which ownership of the buildings could revert to WSU, although an agreement hasn’t been signed yet, Blackmer says.
The other three new structures currently being planned there would include two multiuse buildings and a 1,000-car parking garage, he says. The project also is to include redevelopment of the six-story, 185,000-square-foot former Jensen-Byrd warehouse, which was built in 1909 and is located on Main, about a block east of Pine.
WSU recently contracted with SERA Architects Inc., of Portland, Ore., to study future uses for the former Jensen-Byrd building and what it might cost to redevelop it. SERA, which is expected to complete the study in July, is using two Spokane companies in the work: KJM Associates, for cost estimates, and Coffman Engineers Inc., for structural studies.
“I guess that parts of the Jensen-Byrd building with historic value will be reused in some way. I expect we will avoid having to demolish it,” Blackmer says.
Blackmer expects the overall redevelopment to include more than 400,000 square feet of floor space.
“Realistically, it will take 10 years to complete the project,” he says. “But if there is a high demand and eagerness by tenants to locate here sooner, we could complete the work in five years.”
The second large new structure would be built directly south of the first one, near the northeast corner of Main Avenue and Pine, and just west of the Jensen-Byrd building, Blackmer says. The parking garage is expected to be built just to the east of the Jensen-Byrd building, likely on the site of another warehouse building that would be razed.
The third new building would be located to the south of there, and would front on the planned extension of Riverside Avenue, he says. It’s possible, depending on the type of tenants the joint venture is able to attract, that the third new building could become two smaller buildings, each of which would face the Riverside extension, Blackmer adds. In that case, the parking garage also would be divided into two structures, with a total ofl up to 1,200 parking slots, he says.
Blackmer says geotechnical studies are being done to determine the feasibility of building below-ground parking facilities on the site, but he thinks the land is “hard rock,” and he doubts that such structures will be built.
He says it’s too early to know what kind of tenants would be attracted to the property, but says preliminary interest has been strong, especially because it’s in the University District.
“It’s amazing how many people just call us,” Blackmer says. “We get a lot of cold calls about businesses interested in the site.”
He says Riverpoint Plaza’s development “will need to acknowledge and cooperate with the master plans of the Riverpoint campus and the University District,” adding that the company is collaborating closely with WSU on the project to attract the best mix of tenants.
A major unknown that will effect the project’s master plan is whether one of the buildings would include space for housing, says Blackmer. “No decision has been made on that, yet,” he says.
Contact Rocky Wilson at (509) 344-1264 or via e-mail at email@example.com