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The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

From the outside, The Bickett looks like many buildings outside – old, brick and in need of a little TLC. On the inside, however, developer Jed Conklin and his band of construction workers have transformed the one-time hotel (and rumored brothel) into a streamlined work of art.

Standing at the bannister of the second floor, Conklin says they had a lot of work ahead of them when they first walked in.

“The entire building was open and full of pigeons,” he said. “The droppings were ankle deep in places, and the rain was pouring in.”

Amazingly, Conklin was able to salvage the original floors, now scraped clean and polished to a smooth finish without even a creak to give away its century of history. The original floor plans are still visible in the wood, outlining the four single-occupancy rooms that now make up each apartment.

“We wanted to save as much as we could,” Conklin explained. “Even the shelves are made of recycled lumber from somewhere else in the building.”

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Thanks to a boost in June, Washington's unemployment numbers have dropped to their lowest levels in six years to 5.8 percent – that's according to the state's Employment Security Department.

Industry sectors saw the largest growth with 2,600 jobs. Retail grew by 2,200, leisure and hospitality by 1,900 and wholesale trade by 1,400. Professional and business services, information, manufacturing, financial services and mining also saw growth in the hundreds.

“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “The state's economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good.”

During the one-year period ending in June, Employment Security estimates that employers created 84,700 jobs.

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

A state-sponsored survey of Washington employers shows both hiring and job vacancies increased between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013 and employers say it's taking a lot longer to fill the openings.

The Employment Security Department’s “2013 Fall Job-Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report” estimated job vacancies increased by 23 percent to 86,600 in fall 2013. Estimated hiring rose nearly 10 percent to 209,100.

Employers also reported that vacant positions remained open for more than two months before being filled. That's a striking contrast to the rate of just 19 days in 2012.

The report also shows more than half of the state's job vacancies were in urban areas of Western Washington, accounting for nearly 82 percent of all new hires from July to September last year.

The industry sector with the most job openings was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and the average estimated hourly wage for $13.69.

City Council unanimously approves food truck ordinance

City Council unanimously approves food truck ordinance

The Spokane City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to adopt two ordinances regulating food trucks within city limits.

In May, the city began looking into regulating the growing industry in Spokane. They drafted an ordinance but some food truck owners weren't happy with what they came up with.

The first draft of the ordinance called for a mobile food vending permit, the cost $40 plus $10 for each additional location. It also required truck owners to get permission from businesses if they planned to operate within 75 feet of them.

After hearing from truck owners, the city set up a meeting between all parties involved.

They group made up of the Greater Spokane Food Truck Association, restaurant owners and the city decided to amend the proposal.

The ordinance that passed, requires a $60 permit fee, and mobile food venders must have permission from established businesses within 50 feet.

"I'm super excited about it, I'm really elated that the city worked with us," president of the Greater Spokane Food Truck Association Joile Farral said. "We got a lot done, there was a lot of compromise, there was a good solution and that it was passed."

Last call for the Daiquiri Factory

Last call for the Daiquiri Factory

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has moved forward with the eviction of the Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory from its Wall Street location Monday morning.

During the eviction, deputies posted a sign on the front door, addressed to Jamie's LLC, Daiquiri Factory owner Jamie Pendleton, that the business was evicted from the building and "You no longer have the right to enter this dwelling or go onto this property. If you do, you will be charged with criminal trespass, first or second degree."

Deputies stood by as FPA Crescent changed all the locks on the doors.

"We make sure the premises is safe, that there's nobody in there, nothing like that and then we turn that over to the property owner," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Gregory said.

Todd Reuter, the attorney for FPA Crescent, the company that owns the property, said Monday morning that Pendleton had asked by written note his items be placed in storage. Reuter added that his client has the option to pursue more than $50,000 in claims against Pendleton.

Court orders Daiquiri Factory eviction to proceed

Court orders Daiquiri Factory eviction to proceed

The controversial Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory will be kicked out of its Wall Street space after the bar's attorney tried to put up a fight in court Thursday to stall the eviction but was ultimately unsuccessful.

On Monday the bar was served an eviction notice and given three days to move out, but the bar's lawyer filed a motion asking for a bond to be allowed to stay.

The business has left a strong impression on the community since it opened, first for drawing criticism for a drink that mocked date rape, then a trademark infringement suit brought on by Gonzaga University and finally an eviction notice from their landlord due to unpaid rent.

Last week, a judge ordered an eviction because the bar owed more than $2,000 in unpaid rent but the business didn't go easily.

"We didn't expect them to just move out, they are obstinate and I think they have demonstrated that in a number of ways including the controversy with their drinks and all the litigation against them," Todd Reuter, attorney for the landlord, said.

City council working to find balance between Uber, Lyft and taxi companies

City council working to find balance between Uber, Lyft and taxi companies

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating in Spokane for a short time, but local taxi owners are calling them illegal.

Before the most common way to get a ride was by hailing down a cab. Now you can find a ride-sharing car on your smartphone and get someone to pick you up, leaving some taxi drivers saying its not fair since Uber and Lyft don't follow the same rules as taxi companies do.

Zachary Kelty drives for Lyft and Uber using his Honda Civic. Both companies use apps to connect drivers with people who need a ride, but some taxi drivers want to put the brakes on them.

"You can't just walk into an industry and do anything you want with it," Bill Boomer, owner of Bill's Friendly Cabs said.

Boomer has owned his cab company for the last seven years and he's not happy with ride-sharing companies coming onto his turf. Since Uber and Lyft arrived in Spokane, Boomer said business at some smaller cab companies is down 50-percent, and his company has taken a hit as well.

"I'm going to say I'm down 15-percent," he said.

Competition isn't the thing that bothers him.