Best Person to Save the Davenport Hotel - Walt Worthy
Walt Worthy is a businessman first and foremost. But as recent owners of the venerable Davenport Hotel have no doubt admitted, at least to themselves, it takes much more than a nose for numbers to successfully restore a beloved local landmark to its former glory.
Success in business requires a level of ruthlessness and a willingness to take the path of least resistance to reach the big payoff. Too often, in their rush for profit, developers fail to recognize the inherent value of art, architecture and history. Too often, they fail to see the worth of consensus building among the citizenry.
Then there's Worthy and his latest obsession. With great sensitivity, taste and verve, the local developer and his team have taken on the project of a lifetime. And while Spokane watches in wonderment, we at The Inlander are intrigued by the man at the helm, self-made, motivated, unusually modest and in possession of a singular vision. He's gone from rehabilitating duplexes for a modest profit to becoming the sultan of square footage in the local office space market to one of downtown Spokane's saviors -- and he seems to be having fun in that pressurized role.
Lura Sheahan, Davenport Hotel project coordinator, agrees with our assessment of Worthy as an atypical developer and a man of many talents. She points to the recent rescue of the Hall of Doges from the dilapidated Pennington wing of the hotel as an example of the depth and breadth of Worthy's knowledge -- and of his appreciation for beauty.
"If he had been just a hotelier, he would never have understood that would be possible. So his construction background really came into play. His love of antiquities came into play -- that's why he wanted to salvage it. And as an entrepreneur, he can see that this hotel is only going to be better if it maintains its historical significance for the community."
Not only is Worthy a fearless follower of his own muse, but he is also quick to recognize the talents of those around him.
Says Sheahan: "I've only been here for three months, but one thing that I was immediately impressed with was how many people have worked for him for years. His staff base is like a family. They go from project to project. He brings out the best in people and staffs to complement his style. That leaves him free to do the visionary work and for us to kind of figure out how to get it done."