News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Alison Boggs, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Apr. 1, 2004 - In one of its biggest commercial loans to date, Spokane Teachers Credit Union announced Wednesday that it would finance developer Rob Brewster's renovation of the 105-year-old Montvale Hotel.
Launched just 14 months ago, STCU's business services division did $10 million worth of commercial loans in its first year.
This year, that will likely jump to $15 million, said Steve Dahlstrom, the credit union's chief executive. Almost 20 percent of that -- $2.9 million -- will be loaned to Brewster's $3.5 million project. The rest of the project, which will transform the building at First and Monroe into a 36-room boutique hotel by August, will be privately financed, Brewster said.
"This is a big one for us," Dahlstrom said of the loan. "We're just getting our feet wet." STCU is the largest credit union in Eastern Washington and the third-largest in the state with 70,000 members and $650 million in assets. Dahlstrom said STCU wants to finance projects like Brewster's, which are good investments for the credit union's members and also help revitalize Spokane.
Nationwide, Dahlstrom said, credit unions are only responsible for half of 1 percent of all commercial loans.
"It's not a big project that a Citibank would be interested in," Dahlstrom said. "But in Spokane, we can make a difference." Dahlstrom said STCU began working with Brewster's company, ConoverBond, by providing financial services to its 50 employees. The credit union also refinanced Brewster's Hutton Building. The two organizations started talking about the Montvale in 2001, but the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, delayed the project.
Things are changing now for the regional economy, Brewster said, pointing to projects such as the opening of The Big Easy concert house and the Spokane Symphony's plans to renovate the Fox Theater, both across the street from the Montvale.
"It's important to keep that momentum going," he said.
The three-story hotel ultimately will employ 10 to 15 people.
It will have a restaurant and lounge on the first floor, an ornate lobby with a staircase leading to the second floor, conference rooms, fireplaces and antique furnishings. Rooms will run from $89 to $149 a night.
The hotel already is attracting attention, even in its unfinished state.
Two scenes in an upcoming Josh Hartnett movie were shot there recently by Spokane film company North by Northwest. In the movie, the Montvale is shown as an abandoned hotel where Hartnett's love interest hangs out. The film also ends with a scene in the hotel, said Rich Cowan, co-owner of North by Northwest.
Even with other luxury hotels nearby, such as the Davenport and Lusso, Cowan said the renovation of the Montvale is good news for his company. North by Northwest shoots a couple of movies per year in Spokane and needs quality places for actors and others to stay.
"The more the better for us," Cowan said.
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(c) 2004, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.