4 days, 23 hours, 20 minutes...As of this posting that is the amount of time remaining in the life of the Rookery Block's last two structures: The Rookery and the Mohawk. It appears as if this drama has about run it's course. Wendell Reugh, of Reugh Construction in Spokane has decided that if Ron Wells does not have a deal in hand by October 31st, the wrecking ball will start swinging the next day. His gift to Spokane: another surface parking lot.
The development of these parcels didn't need to be so difficult. A number of firms gave it a try. Some more than one. Residential and commercial projects in and around the core are increasing, but for some reason getting this one to pencil for developers was like herding cats. It's easy to point the finger at Wendell Reugh. He's made his fortune in this city [some of you may be living in an apartment or home his firm constructed], bought this block when it was worth little, has recently sold off a number of his properties for un-godly amounts, and yet still insists on increasing the price anytime a deal gets close.
If nothing else, Wendell Reugh and the Rookery debacle represents our culture's preference for greener pastures, the next best thing, fad, trend, etc. For quite a number of years downtown was yesterday's news. Until recently, opportunity was anywhere but downtown, and as such we've collectively abandoned them; "demolition by neglect" as someone once put it. It also reflects a populace that is either too preoccupied or overly passive to care about such things. We're not quite sure which, but take your pick.
So, in an odd kind of way, are we the ones responsible for the Rookery Block's [or the next building in our core that comes crashing down] tragic ending? Maybe. It's hard to say. But think about the Rookery Block the next time you drive through the Hillyards, or the East Centrals of our City. These places have been declining for years, and are at the same place downtown was fifteen years ago. So what are we going to do about it?