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Owner plans renovation of former Spanky’s downtown Vancouver building

By , Columbian business reporter
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A local developer has bought the former Spanky's Legendary Consignment building in downtown Vancouver and plans to renovate it into a restaurant and office space. The structure has been vacant since 2008 and has become a prominent downtown eyesore.
A local developer has bought the former Spanky's Legendary Consignment building in downtown Vancouver and plans to renovate it into a restaurant and office space. The structure has been vacant since 2008 and has become a prominent downtown eyesore. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

More than 12 years after the closure of the downtown branch of Spanky’s Legendary Consignment, the business’s former home is set to receive a major overhaul.

Vancouver-based Northwest Elite Homes purchased the aging building earlier this year and is working on a plan to revive the structure as a restaurant and office space.

The building at 813 Main St. is among the oldest in Vancouver. It was built in the 1890s, according to Elite Homes, although Clark County records don’t list the exact year of construction. It originally operated as a theater and underwent several renovations and tenant changes over the decades.

Spanky’s moved into the building in 1984, and the company later expanded to a second store in east Vancouver. The owners opted to close the downtown branch in 2008 and consolidate operations at the eastern site. That store closed its doors earlier this year due to economic hardship inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The downtown building still bears the prominent SPANKY’S sign on the corner of West Ninth and Main Streets. But it has remained vacant for the past 12 years and become a prominent eyesore along Main Street — visibly in need of some major renovation work.

Planned overhaul

Construction crews from Vancouver-based Hurley Development performed some work on the structure in 2018, but the building’s then-owner, Sobolik & Finegan Properties LLC, declined to comment about the work at the time, and the building ultimately remained closed.

“One of the reasons we got involved was because it was such a blighted corner at the time,” Hurley Development Executive Vice President Greg McGreevey said.

The company had previously overhauled the adjacent building at 808 and 810 Main St., and began developing a plan to give the Spanky’s building a similar update, shepherding the design through the approval process with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The company’s goal was to either find a partner or sell the property to someone to complete the renovation, McGreevey said, and Northwest Elite Homes was eager to take on the project.

Clark County property records show Northwest Elite purchased the building from Sobolik & Finegan Properties and Hurley Development subsidiary Ten Talents Investments 22 in April.

Restaurant and office space

Alex Izotov founded Northwest Elite Homes about five years ago after previously building a career in masonry construction. The company initially focused on custom homes, but it has more recently begun to branch out into affordable and multifamily housing.

The renovation of the former Spanky’s building marks the company’s first foray into the world of commercial real estate, but Izotov said it won’t be the last. His long-term goal is to develop more property in downtown Vancouver, and he said the historic abandoned building was an ideal entry point.

“I’m driving in downtown Vancouver a lot, and it caught my eye all the time,” he said.

The renovation plan calls for a luxury restaurant on the ground floor of the building and office space on the second floor, divided among two or three tenants. Northwest Elite itself might relocate and take over part of the office space, he said, although that part of the plan isn’t finalized yet.

Each floor of the building is about 5,000 square feet, but Izotov said his goal is to expand the second floor to 8,000 square feet of office space by taking advantage of the second floor’s 20-foot ceilings to create an upper mezzanine level above part of the second floor.

The project will include a significant structural overhaul in order to bring the century-old building up to modern standards, particularly when it comes to seismic resilience. Part of the work will involve the addition of several steel beams for additional support, Izotov said.

“There’s definitely a significant seismic upgrade investment that will have to take place,” said Max Lopatin, a real estate agent at Parker Brennan Real Estate, who represented Northwest Elite in the transaction to buy the building.

Nearly all of the building’s internal systems, such as heating, cooling and water, will need to be torn out and rebuilt, he added. The outside envelope and internal bones of the building will be preserved, he said, but much of the interior will be essentially rebuilt from scratch.

The outside of the building will ditch the visible brickwork in favor of a more contemporary look, Izotov said — a necessary consequence of the structural work needed to bring the building up to modern standards. But he hopes to maintain slices of the building’s historic flavor on the inside by retaining exposed brick surfaces and some of the wallpaper.

The sale price was $1.1 million, according to Clark County property records, and Izotov said Northwest Elite plans to invest between $2.5 million and $3 million more for the renovation work.

“A lot of it is going to go for structural (improvements) and outside finishes,” he said.

The design has been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission but is still working its way through the permitting process for construction. Izotov said he hopes to begin the renovation work in September or October. The full construction timeline isn’t yet known, he said, due to the amount of work the project is going to entail.

The project will eventually include a new name for the building, Izotov said, but his team hasn’t settled on one yet. For now, they’re continuing to refer to it internally by the same unofficial name that most Vancouver residents associate with it — the Spanky’s building.

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