Ridpath's history helping shape its future

SPOKANE, Wash. - Ridpath historic place vo

The Ridpath made a major step in the long journey toward its renovation on Thursday. The building was just put on the Washington Register of Historic Places.

Board members with the register had to take a tour of the Ridpath before making a decision. Most people may question the value, let alone the historical significance of the building after a tour. Parts of the ceiling are torn down, and the 13th floor where the restaurant used to be is completely trashed.

Register board member Robert McCoy says most people would be wrong.

"It's contribution to the history of Spokane, looking particularly at hospitality and the building," he said of the approval.

What does remain, is a building deeply rooted in Spokane. It was the views left behind that gave developer Ron Wells a vision.

"95 percent of the inside is fine, five percent has been vandalized," Wells said of the Ridpath.

Wells plans to turn the hotel rooms into micro-apartments, while some will be converted into luxury living spaces. Since the building became a landmark, Wells could qualify for $4 million in federal tax breaks.

A $17 million dollar renovation, could cost $13 million.

"It gives us the money to do a really first class job of the whole project. If we didn't have that $4 million, it would be very tight.," Wells said.

Because the Ridpath is a landmark now Wells can't touch exterior windows, but he can replace broken ones. He also has to keep the open character of the lobby and stairs.

The tax credits could be approved in December. Construction is set to begin in February.