In an innovative historic preservation project being hailed as “brilliant” by urban planners and wildlife preservationists across the nation, the historic Parkade building, located on the southeast corner of Howard Street and Main Ave in downtown Spokane, will be moved one block northeast starting later this summer.

This move comes in response to the discovery of subterranean network of protected marmot trails. After much deliberation, it was decided that the best solution to preserve the Googie inspired parking garage was to simply move the building to another plot of land owned by Parkade property owner.

Lead project engineer, Stanly Badidea, from the firm Badidea and Howe, said the project will be their biggest challenge to date. “Of all the scenarios available to us, this seemed like the most viable option for keeping the Parkade as a part of the downtown skyline, while restoring the native habitat of Spokane’s unofficial mascot,” said Badidea.

The existence of the network was brought to the attention of officials by Martin ‎Blumenbach, a wildlife biologist vising Spokane during his bi-annual northwest tour of Marmot habitats. “I’ve been keeping an eye on a particular family of Olympic Marmots,” says Blumenbach “When I noticed a migration pattern that indicated there may be an ancient habitat underneath the streets of downtown.”

After several weeks of exploration, Blumenbach learned that the confluence of the network was centered underneath the foundation of the Parkade, “Right near the sympathy card section in Rite Aid,” says Blumenbach. Once the parking structure is moved, Blumenbach will return with a team of experts to develop the plot of land into a Marmot Reserve. Utilizing the network of trails, when the reserve is finished, it is estimated that as many as 500 marmots will make their home in downtown Spokane. “Spokane is very much on the cutting edge of this type of preservation,” says Blumenbach. “I’m grateful to all the city leaders who realize what an economic driver marmots can be.”

Engineers have been finalizing the details for the big move. Preliminary plans indicate a mid-June shut down of a six square block region in downtown, centered at the Parkade. It is anticipated to take eight weeks to dig below the existing Parkade foundation, while simultaneously excavating a foundation at the new site. Following the dig, another six weeks to maneuver the structure onto a unique ball bearing system allowing the building to slowly roll to its new home with minimal interference.

“We will have to tear down the Liberty Building to make the move,” says Badidea. “But we think the end result will be worth it.”

Once the structure is in place, sometime around the holidays, the process of sealing the entrances will begin. “After we’ve moved the building, there is no way it will be solid enough to support parking, or people for that matter,” says Badidea. Plans for the building include exterior lighting and landscaping in the midcentury modern style. Conversations are currently being had with Acme Concrete company, who furnished the concrete for the structure when it was built in 1967. “It’s going to be so wonderful to look at,” says Badidea. “I’m so blessed to be a part of this gift to Spokane.”

When asked about the anticipated traffic interference and the suspension of Hoopfest for 2019, DSP President Mark Richard responded with, “April Fools!”

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