SPOKANE, Wash --- The downtown Steam Plant building is under renovation along with the adjacent Seehorn-Lang Building.
The Steam Plant’s last boiler was shut down in 1986, ten years later the building’s transformations began and now they have more work under way.
For 70 years the Steam Plant kept the heart of downtown beating, providing heat to homes and businesses. The boilers have been off for years but the building still pumps life into the downtown area with shops, a restaurant and a brewery.
“It’s time for a refresh,” said Operations and Property Manager for Steam Plant Square, Spencer Sowl.
Sowl hopes the new changes will help the building stay relevant and profitable for Spokane.
The iconic smoke stacks tower 225 feet above the Steam Plant and are being refreshed with some much needed repairs.
“They're over a hundred years old, they withstand a lot wind, and storm and rain all that good stuff so we're trying to just do some maintenance on them,” said Sowl.
Below the smoke stacks are the Steam Plant restaurant and brewery, which is closed for renovations as well. A new open kitchen is planned for the space.
The biggest change might be to the Seehorn-Lang Building which is adjacent to the Steam Plant. The top floor will be turned into an event center. It used to be an office space, and now it will be transformed into a space for wedding receptions, corporate parties and more.
Sowl said the biggest challenge is maintaining the buildings’ historic essence while at the same time meeting the needs of today’s downtown community.
"It tells a story and that story is just a large piece of the Spokane history. We want to keep the historical piece to everything that is provided in this building," said Sowl.
Because while Spokane no longer relies on the Steam Plant for heat, Sowl hopes the upgrades will provide a spark to the downtown economy.
"And that's what it's all about the experience of people coming down to Spokane and coming to the Steam Plant let alone around the entire area," said Sowl.
The work on the smoke stacks is expected to be finished in about a month and a half with the event center planning on opening in the fall. The renovation is projected to cost $1.5 million.