Story By Karen Dorn Steele, SPA Advocacy Chair
Two historic auto row showrooms along West Third Avenue will be demolished, but a third showroom will be renovated in a compromise reached by Spokane’s Historic Preservation Office and a major auto dealership.
Megan Duvall, the city’s new historic preservation officer, used a provision of the city’s demolition ordinance which allows the razing of historic structures as long as an adjacent historic building is rehabilitated.
The buildings that will be demolished are at 1023 and 1027 West Third. The renovation will occur at the Lexus dealership across the street at 1030 West Third – the former International Harvester Company Truck Showroom, built in 1929.
A surface parking lot for the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies will replace the demolished buildings. The company will now include the original Harvester Company’s brick façade in its renovation plans for the Lexus facility instead of hiding the façade under a metal veneer.
On Oct. 15, the auto company’s property representative appeared before the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission seeking permission to move ahead on the demolition. But the commission voted unanimously to declare the two brick buildings “historically significant” and eligible for the National Historic Register – temporarily thwarting the auto dealership’s plans.
The deal worked out between Duvall and the Larry Miller auto dealership is an “acceptable compromise,” said Paul Mann, Spokane Preservation Advocates president.
Although SPA would have preferred to save the two historic buildings, Larry Miller’s operation is also part of the city’s auto row history, Mann added.
As part of their plans for the downtown auto sales area, the Larry H. Miller companies want to close South Madison Street between West Second and Freeway Avenue North, converting it to a pedestrian-and bicycle-friendly area. That change would require approval by the Spokane City Council.
The compromise announced this week comes a month after the Historic Landmarks Commission vote, which angered the auto dealership.
Click here to view the three page rendering of the compromise including the Harvester Company building: LHM Lexus 20141029_Auto Row