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SPOKANE, WA-At last count, the California investment duo of Jack Branagh and Gaylon Patterson were holding about ten Spokane office properties in their portfolio. Their newest venture here is the development of a $16-million combination hotel/office property in West Spokane.

The investors’ developer is WAM Enterprises Inc. of Spokane, a company that has a long-standing relationship of developing for Branagh and Patterson. Bruce Miller, WAM’s VP, tells GlobeSt his company has developed about 300,000-sf worth of commercial properties for the Oakland-based investors since the early 1990′s, including the 90,000-sf Group Health complex located near the new project.

The 14-acre site at the southwest corner of Sunset Blvd. and Windsor Dr. lies between the Spokane International Airport and downtown. The hotel component alone says Miller has a projected value of $11 million. The 125-room four-story Holiday Inn is set for operation by Bramer & Associates, a hotelier out of Grand Junction, CO.

Miller says the project’s office building will contain 40,000 sf of Class A space in a two-story structure. Its value is estimated by Miller at $5 million.

Of today’s Spokane office sector, David Black, president of the Spokane-based brokerage of Tomlinson Black Commercial, tells GlobeSt, “The office market is very stable. Unlike Puget Sound, we don’t get the drastic absorption in the good times or the high vacancies in the bad times.”

The question to apply to the Branagh/Patterson project, Black explains, is “How long will it take for the space to be absorbed?” Historically, he says Spokane the market here will fill 60,000 to 100,000 sf of space in a given year. Inasmuch as the Branagh/Patterson project is being built on spec, Black says the developers are likely counting on a year to lease up.

As for the hotel portion of the project, GlobeSt spoke with Chris Burdett, a Washington hotel specialist with the Seattle office of Colliers International. The wildcard for the project, Burdett predicts, is the impact of the 280 rooms that will be delivered in downtown when the renovation of the old Davenport hotel is completed. “That’s a lot of rooms for the market there. It’s hard to say if they will impact the market in the outlying areas.”

Miller admits he’s not a hotel specialist and did not comment on that aspect of the project’s viability. As for the office space however, he says, “There isn’t a great deal of office space between the airport and downtown, and we believe the demand is there. We are, of course hoping to get one or two tenants to fill entire space. But, we can break it down if we have to.”

Miller says he has developed commercial properties in the smaller cities throughout the Pacific Northwest, and a quirk of Spokane is that the tenants generally don’t show up until the building is complete. “It’s just never been a strong preleasing market,” he adds.

The project’s buildings were designed by Architectural Ventures, and Panco Construction Inc. has been selected as the general contractor. Both companies are based in Spokane.

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