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The Rodeway’s in for a makeover. Is Spokane getting Portland-ified?

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Jerry Dicker wants you to know the difference between the Heathman Hotel and the Jupiter Hotel. Why care about two hotels — one classically swank, the other hip, modern and artsy — in Portland?

Because, he says, it’s a relationship that’s about to happen in downtown Spokane.

“It’s a different experience,” Dicker says of the Rose City lodgings.

“The Heathman is nice… but it’s not the Jupiter.”

Translation: The Davenport Hotel is nice, but it’s not anything like the hotel that Dicker is planning in its shadow.

Gerald Vance Dicker runs GVD Commercial Properties, which recently bought the Rodeway Inn. By the end of the year, says Dicker, the Rodeway will be something completely different.

He won’t use the word “hip” for his hotel, but it sounds like it might be. It’s in the center of downtown, virtually the same distance as the Davenport from everything that anybody might want to go to: bars, clubs, restaurants, venues.

He’s aiming for his hotel to be “on the spectrum” of other well-known boutique hotels, including the Hotel Madera and Jupiter in Portland, and the Pearl Hotel in San Diego. All hip, all cool and all hewn from forgotten and lame hotels.

“We think it’s going to appeal to all kinds of people. It’s going to be a really sharp place that’s very convenient to the entertainment district, but that has a real reasonable price,” Dicker says.

Right now, the 37-room Rodeway looks like a lot of other hotels built in the ’60s: boxy, square, Lego-y. He says the final remodeled product will be complete by the end of the year with a price tag of around $1.5 million. “Each room will be more specialized or unique,” he says, estimating that a night will cost $75. “Modern, not cluttered.”

Dicker says he’s not out to take on the behemoth Davenport, which is directly across the street.

“We’re happy to be near the Davenport,” he says.

“And the Montvale and Lusso and Rain and Scratch and the Peacock Room and the other night spots. The Bing, the Fox, the Knitting Factory.”

“I think it’s great. It improves the neighborhood,” says Lynnelle Caudill, the Davenport’s general manager, not showing any fear. “Anytime we can improve the city, it helps everyone. Especially if we can improve a one-star hotel.”

Caudill says Spokane’s tourist industry has weathered the recession well — business dipped about 7 percent in Spokane, compared with New York’s 30 percent tumble and Seattle and Boise’s 20 percent fall. Still, she thinks Spokane could support another hotel.

Or maybe two. Dicker’s company is also redeveloping an entire block on the north side, on the site of the old Burgan’s Fine Furniture. There, a 100-room, fi ve-story hotel will be anything but an affordable, boutique-y hotel.

A third hotel by another developer, the Peppertree Inn at Third and Division, has run into some major funding troubles, according to the Journal of Business. The project has secured $4 million in small-business loans, less than half of what it needs.

Dicker’s not worried. “We wouldn’t do the projects unless there’s some return.”

In 2008, visitors spent more than $830 million here, and almost $62 million was collected in state and local taxes. Pam Scott, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects this year to be even better. For 2010, 113 conventions are booked in Spokane, including the recently concluded U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the upcoming fi rst and second rounds of the NCAA basketball championships.

The tourists are set, but will the Rodeway offer anything to those of us who live here? “We’re considering putting in a small restaurant, with a bar,” Dicker says. “We’re long-term players. I live here in Spokane” — and he just spent three years renovating his house — “so I would really like to do anything I can to help the city.”

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