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Coeur d’Alene fills long-empty historic Montgomery Ward building

The Wiggett building in downtown Coeur d'Alene as seen in May 2017. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The Wiggett building in downtown Coeur d’Alene as seen in May 2017. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Sitting empty since 2006, the original four-level brick Montgomery Ward building in downtown Coeur d’Alene will be largely filled up by tenants by the end of summer.

Three Coeur d’Alene businesses teamed up to buy the 27,000-square foot Wiggett Building – as the building at Lakeside and Fourth Street has been known for decades – for an undisclosed amount.

The sale closed in July, renovations started in September and the owners plan to move their offices in at the end of summer, said Ben Widmyer, a member of Wiggett Partners LLC, the building’s ownership group.

“We took it down to the bricks and timbers,” said Widmyer, president of Widmyer Corp., a Coeur d’Alene development and property management company that will occupy 2,300 square feet on the second floor.

The other owners are The Murray Group, a downtown Coeur d’Alene health benefits consulting firm that will occupy all 5,200 square feet on the third floor; and Welch Comer Engineers, which will fill 7,000 square feet on the ground floor and lower level.

The new look for the 1928 Wiggett Building in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Image courtesy of Widmyer Corp.

The new look for the 1928 Wiggett Building in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Image courtesy of Widmyer Corp.

“Part of it is to practice what we preach,” said Phil Boyd, president at Welch Comer, which does extensive urban renewal work. “My wife and I had looked at that building for three or four years. The issue was parking.”

The city of Coeur d’Alene in December started construction on the city’s first parking garage a half block  north of the Wiggett building. Construction on the garage convinced Widmyer and Boyd to move ahead with buying the building. Widmyer had been Boyd’s broker on other real estate properties. They brought The Murray Group into the ownership group.

Welch Comer has about 30 employees and many, including Boyd, live near the existing Welch Comer office by Home Depot and Coeur d’Alene High School in the northeast corner of town.

“My commute currently is four minutes,” Boyd said. “It will be 15 minutes. I think I can handle that. Being downtown is desirable because there are so many activities and opportunities.”

Montgomery Ward occupied the Wiggett building from 1928 to 1966. Photo courtesy of Widmyer Corp.

Montgomery Ward occupied the Wiggett building from 1928 to 1966. Photo courtesy of Widmyer Corp.

Montgomery Ward occupied the building from its completion in 1928 until the retailer moved to the Coeur d’Alene Mall in 1966. Tenants since then have included Home Furniture Mart and, from 1988 to 2006, Wiggett Antiques Marketplace, which had to move out when a new building owner took over.

“It will be great to re-energize that section of Fourth and Lakeside,” said Hilary Anderson, Coeur d’Alene’s community development director. “We are continually trying to expand the downtown area.”

The building has stood empty since 2006 through three successive owners until Wiggett Partners came onboard.

“The market has improved,” Widmyer said.

Seejepp Creative will be another tenant and an undisclosed tenant will fill the corner suite at Fourth and Lakeside. A 1,200-square-foot space remains available on the ground floor and a 1,400-square-foot space is available on the second floor, Widmyer said.

Widmyer’s office now is in the 1908 Sherman Arms building that he bought and renovated in 2014 on Sherman Avenue, Couer d’Alene’s main downtown street.

Miller Stauffer Architects of Coeur d’Alene is the architect and T. LaRiviere Equipment & Excavation of Coeur d’Alene is the general contractor.

 

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.