Update: A statement from Fortify Holdings provided earlier today has been added to this story.
The Spokane permit office shut down Portland developer Sean Keys’ hotel to micro-apartment renovations because the company started work without permits.
Of the 16 rundown hotels that Keys’ Fortify Holdings Inc. owns, the two in Spokane appeared to be the closest to completion. Fortify bought the hotels in 2020.
Fortify owns five hotels in the Tri-Cities and is negotiating to buy two more – the Riverfront Inn in Richland and the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick. They’ve told Richland’s city council and the Port of Kennewick that the deal is off unless they sell them the land under the hotels.
In a phone conversation, Spokane Permit Coordinator Sean Shields said his department shut down the hotel projects when inspectors discovered that work had begun without the proper permits. The agency stopped the renovations and restarted the permitting process.
Fortify Regional Manager Robert Jacobs later told the Observer that the City of Spokane had been a great partner for the company. He said, “Residents are living in part of The Imperial and every room that became available was snapped up in two weeks.” He did not know how many units were occupied.
In a followup phone call, Shields said that a couple of rooms in The Imperial had already been rented when the renovation was stopped. The occupants were allowed to remain until they could be moved to units that were brought up to code. He said The James only had an interior demolition permit.
In a statement provided by Jacobs,
“When we started to renovate an old motel in downtown Spokane (after meeting with the city and starting the change of use process), we believed the work we were doing was allowed and already permitted. As it turned out, it wasn’t. After learning this, we immediately halted work and with the help of our architects and engineers, we submitted a permitting package with the city of Spokane for their review. Through this process, we have established a good relationship with the City of Spokane and have worked together ensuring all our work is appropriately permitted. We commit to do this in every community we invest in.”
Since last fall, Fortify has advertised that some of the Spokane apartment units would be available in January. Recently the date was moved to April. In response to an email, a rental agent wrote that the projects were still under construction. Agencies have advertised the monthly rent for The Imperial to be $1145 to $1290 for apartments 263 sq. ft. to 283 sq.ft. Promotional materials describe monthly expenses for sewer, water, electricity, and garbage as averaging $150 a month. Tenants can have up to two small pets for a $400 fee and a $25 a month charge.