SPOKANE, Wash. --- Five residential buildings will be torn down along Grand on Spokane’s South Hill to make way for a new bank.
Washington Trust is building a new branch along Grand Boulevard between 31st Avenue and 32nd Avenue.
The project will include a new Washington Trust Bank as well as a restaurant, though they did not know what type of restaurant as of Thursday.
“We felt very strongly that we wanted to have an improved experience for our customers on the South Hill,” explained Cathie Winegar, the VP of retail delivery for the company. “It seems weird that we wouldn’t just remodel…but to remodel the existing building would have been an absolute nightmare.”
Winegar explained the homes to be demolished were all either vacant or rented out. She said the renters had been notified a year ago of the company’s decision.
“We understand the risk, I know it seems like we’re being disrespectful of the community but in reality it’ll be a huge improvement for the community,” Winegar said. “We’ll be building out that area with a lot more amenities.”
Current plans include replacing the existing sidewalk and adding more grass by the road. She said they also plan to make a courtyard-style area where pedestrians or public transit commuters can rest.
“It will be a very small footprint for the bank [building,]” she said.
Residents had some mixed opinions about the development on the social media app, NextDoor.
Some complained that the development would be removing the houses themselves, while others lamented the loss of some architectural elements of the homes, like windows.
"To see old houses like these go away just for the expanding of businesses doesn't really sounds like a good thing," said Christian Shaw, a resident of the local neighborhood.
"I am really disappointed and very upset about the lack of knowledge that has now become a real sore spot with all our neighbors," said another resident in an email to KREM.
“The demolition crew requested they be able to retain and recycle any safe and usable items procured during their project as a portion of their compensation for the job,” Winegar said. “The items that are safe for re-sale will go through the professional process of the crew onsite.”
Other residents said they were sad to see some of the shade trees go.
Winegar said all five of the homes being demolished have asbestos.
The new Washington Trust Bank address will be 3101 Grand Blvd. No word yet on what the company plans to do with the old bank branch just up the road.