"She said: 'If you even think about this, it's over,'" Newell said. "So there was some negotiation for a period of time."
"It's something he's always wanted to do,"
The building was occupied by the Masonic order and affiliated fraternal groups until 2013 when they sold it to Newell. It is now used as an event center for weddings, auctions and corporate meetings.
Newell's plans for the 110,000-square-foot historic building include adding two restaurants, two bars, two lounges, a cafe and a supper club to the interior. Changes made to the exterior of the building will be minimal, due to its listing on local and national historical registries. However, he said the city is likely to approve widening of the sidewalk in front of the building.
The first phase of renovation will be on the fourth floor, and Newell hopes it will be finished by next summer. The Commandry room on that floor will become the supper club, which will feature live music along with dinner. Dining space will be leased to other restaurants, though they have not yet begun the search for operators.
Newell envisions patrons barhopping within the building, something he noticed happening frequently while traveling through
On the interior, many of the Egyptian artwork and Roman columns will be maintained, but Newell aims to infuse more natural light inside.
"This is going to be one of those areas that will certainly thrive," said
They hope the repurposing of the building will bring more people to the area to help the surrounding neighborhood flourish, including Kendall Yards across the river. They also want to draw people leaving the convention center.
"This area of town is ready to just start booming," Scott said. "It's just a great way to get this building back to the community."
Newell estimates the renovations will cost
A main reason for Newell's purchase was to debut his company's robotic parking system, which would be located on the backside of the building. The parking system is being developed by his equipment management company,
He is using this opportunity to build, test and showcase robotic parking in
"It just made sense commercially and strategically," he said.
He is moving forward as quickly as he can to get approvals and begin construction. His company originally was based in
"I want to create something different, something good for
(c)2014 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)
Visit The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) at www.spokesman.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services