Plans in place to demolish Chancery building, build new downtown apartment complex

Centennial Properties Rendering Courtesy Of Nac
Courtesy: Centennial Property

SPOKANE, Wash. — Plans are in place to tear down the Chancery building in downtown Spokane to make way for a new apartment complex. 

The project is being spearheaded by Centennial Real Estate Investments, the real estate division of the Cowles Company. 

The company owns the whole block, including the adjacent property that used to be home to the production operations of the Spokesman-Review. Those operations were moved to Spokane Valley in 2020 and Dry Fly Distilling has since moved into the facility. 

The Chancery building was built in 1910 as the Western Union Life Insurance Building and was designed by famed architect Kirtland Cutter. Cutter also built the Davenport Hotel, Patsy Clark Mansion, Spokane Club and the Monroe Street Bridge. 

Chancery Building

Over the years, the Chancery building has been home to several different life insurance companies and most recently served as the headquarters for the Spokane Roman Catholic Diocese. 

The Diocese sold the building in 2006, but stayed as tenants until the building was completely vacated in 2019 because of safety and operational concerns.

Since then, preservation advocates have urged Centennial Real Estate to preserve the building. However, there is little that the City of Spokane Historic Preservation Society can do to keep it from being demolished. 

That is because the building is not listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places, which would have provided protection. The Chancery is part of a National Historic District, but that does not protect the building if there are plans for its replacement. 

The building was placed up for sale earlier this year, but so far there is no buyer. Now, Centennial Real Estate is looking to move forward with plans for a new apartment complex.

The proposed plans include a 40-50 unit building made up of two-bedroom and one-bedroom apartments, as well as a community courtyard. 

In 2019, Historic Preservation Officer Megan Duvall told 4 News Now that in order to demolish the building, owners would have to prove their replacement is “compatible with the historic character of the area,” and must have a footprint of the same size or larger than the Chancery. 

In their release Wednesday, Centennial Real Estate said the proposed apartment complex would have “nods to the architectural details currently found within” the Chancery. 

“We agree with our partners and community leaders that housing must be a priority at this time, given Spokane’s unprecedented growth and limited rental market,” said Doug Yost, Vice President of Centennial Real Estate Investments. “We see a pressing need for housing that’s accessible to our working professionals such as educators, military personnel, service professionals and others who work in downtown Spokane. Stable housing is essential for healthy communities.” 

“At the core of all our decisions is a long-term view of Spokane and in particular Downtown,” said Betsy Cowles, Chairman and CEO of Cowles Company. “This project is a continuation of our investment in repurposing sites to their highest and best use. We believe this new housing will help fulfill a community need during the city’s transformational growth phase.” 

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