Congratulations to the Daily News, Mark Wintz, EMSI, and Gritman Medical Park! Great news for Moscow’s downtown and overall economic health for our region! Much Thanks to the Daily News for their confidence in Palouse Commercial Real Estate! Here’s what the Daily News had to say about it…

‘The Moscow-Pullman Daily News will find a new home in the Moscow Federal Building after more than 50 years at its location on Jackson Street.

Its building at 409 S. Jackson St. is contracted to be sold for $1 million to independent real estate developer and contractor Mark Wintz of Wintz and Company LLC. The closing date for the sale is set for March 29, but could be sooner, said Nathan Alford, Daily News editor and publisher.

Alford said the current building – the fourth location on the Palouse in more than 100 continuous years of daily Moscow newspapers – has too much space with the recent investment in the Daily News’ $12 million press and production facility in Lewiston.

“The needs of our newspaper have changed,” he said. “We simply don’t need the 10,000 square feet of space.”

Alford said the new office in the Federal Building, which is owned by Gritman Medical Center, is the right size. He said the sale of the building suits the Palouse community well.

“We were still reticent to sell.” he said, “It had to be the right buyer and the right long-term plan for the building and our community, and Mark Wintz and EMSI – recently purchased by – more than fit the bill.”

A new resident

Wintz, who has been in the real estate development business for 30 years, organized a silent partnership – 409 South Jackson LLC – to purchase the building. He will then lease it to EMSI, an economics firm that provides labor market data needed for businesses, community colleges and universities trying to open a new location.

The building will be a custom remodel to fit the needs and wants of EMSI. Wintz said EMSI CEO Andrew Crapuchettes approached him in October 2011 about purchasing and renovating a building that could fit the needs of a growing EMSI.

Crapuchettes said EMSI’s growth is very much constrained by its current location in the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency’s Alturas Technology Park. By moving to the location on Jackson, he said they will be able to hire more employees, especially since purchased a majority of its shares five months ago.

“We have about 80 employees now and we’re packed into our building,” Crapuchettes said.

Wintz said EMSI needed about 20,000 square feet of space and wanted to be in downtown Moscow. He said there were some opportunities to build in downtown, but EMSI liked the idea of rebuilding a space with a historical aspect and the Daily News had its building for sale.

“We looked at a number of different sites and just kind of recognized that … that building would be best suited for our needs,” Wintz said.

Some of the big changes they are planning, he said, include gutting the building completely, opening it up with more windows and skylights and adding a roof deck with a bocce court. They will also be making some alterations to the exterior facade, including sidewalk work and different trees to make the building more visible.

He said while they are planning to modernize the space, they will also maintain some of the original features to help give EMSI a downtown identity.

“I know that Nathan, the Alfords, have a long history there,” Wintz said, “and we think that one of the values is not only the location, but its history and some of the qualities built into it originally – the brick facade – we want to keep in it.”

Renovations for the building itself will cost more than $1 million, Wintz said, and will begin in April. He said their target completion time is November. Wintz is also the general contractor for the project, and said his crew will complete about 40 percent of the work with the remaining 60 percent subcontracted for electricity, plumbing and other specialties.

“I’m confident that we’re going to be able to deliver on the promise,” Wintz said.

Becoming part of downtown

Wintz said the move of EMSI means that there will be about 100 people with “pretty good salaries” in downtown Moscow.

“These people are going to be bringing a lot of business downtown,” he said.

Crapuchettes said EMSI is largely high paying jobs and they would like to be part of the community and see downtown grow and expand. He said he also anticipates that with the addition of about 1,000 Careerbuilder sales representatives selling their products, business will grow for them in the next two to three years as well. is jointly owned by three newspaper chains, Gannett Co. Inc., Tribune Co. and The McClatchy Co. Crapuchettes said it has been a partner for EMSI for several years.

“They’re committed to growing EMSI here in Moscow, and they are selling our products and giving us data that we can sell into our products, so they’re very much connected into our building deal,” Crapuchettes said.

Crapuchette said as their business grows, they plan to hire more people, but before they can do that, remodeling their new home will be the main priority. He said the plan is to have a high-tech, San Francisco Bay Area type of building in a location that is part of the community.

“I’m looking forward to the roof deck and being next to Red Bento – those are the two primary things,” he said. “Just being downtown and in walking distance to good restaurants.”

A continuing presence

Alford said the newspaper’s new location will require more than $20,000 of renovations and technology improvements, but he is excited to be part of improving and investing in the Federal Building. Renovations will begin Monday and Daily News offices should be completely moved and running by April 15.

“Downtown location is so important to most of our employees we’ve been a part of the downtown community for more than a 100-plus years and we’re going to continue to be a part of the downtown community,” Alford said.’

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Manager Josh Lafon shows off the new dry-washing machine.

When Green’s Cleaners on main street closed down in August, Moscow residents were left were left having to take their laundry to Pullman or Lewiston for cleaning. Although a bit of a crisis for locals, the closure of Green’s proved to be an opportunity for Alex and Heather Lloyd. The couple, who already own a dry cleaning business in Arizona, were in town visiting their son, who attends New Saint Andrews College. Hearing about the closure of Green’s from community members, they made some inquiries with us at Palouse Commercial Real Estate and elsewhere.

They eventually decided to buy the assets and set up Western Laundry Unlimited and Dry Cleaning in Green’s Main Street space. Walking into the building today, one gets the impression that a lot has changed. Rather than just stepping in and picking up where Green’s left off, the Lloyds are obviously going a different direction, with a new look and a new process for cleaning clothes.

Two months of remodeling has transformed the inside of the building. Higher ceilings and a sparkling new lobby have considerably brightened the interior.

At first, the new venture required some improvisation. For the first month after they opened in January, employees were driving the clothes down to Lewiston for cleaning because the dry cleaning machine in Green’s was broken. Rather than fixing the old equipment, the Lloyds decided instead to buy a new one.

Traditional dry cleaning isn’t exactly the easiest or cleanest work. It involves a chemical called Perc, which is dangerous and tends to contaminate spaces where it is used.

“It’s super carcinogenic,” says manager Josh Lafon at Western.

The Lloyds opted instead for a newer, cleaner method. Their machine, which finally arrived in February, uses as an environmentally friendly solvent called SolvonK4 instead of Perc.

“It’s a completely environmentally friendly process,” Lafon said.

Right now, Western Laundry Unlimited and Dry Cleaning is only located at 616. S. Main in Moscow, but Lafon says they are thinking about opening drop stores in Pullman  and  Colfax.

Know an interesting entrepreneur or business event? Let us know. Email to
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Social Media class being offered

Posted by shelleybennett under Uncategorized

Consultant Josh Wade of NectarMEDIA will be offering instruction on how to attract more customers to your business via social media at the Bell Tower Event Center in Pullman on Jan. 10 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

The event is called “Winning & Building Business Through Social Media Marketing.”
Registration is $15. Go to the Moscow Chamber website here for more information and to register.

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Expanding commercialism

Posted by shelleybennett under Moscow, Regional News, soccer


Sometimes great ideas come not from inspiration, but from frustration. When long-time businessman and veteran club soccer referee Aziz Makhani noticed that some of the kids on the club soccer team were doing improper throw-ins, he realized he needed a better way to get the players to visualize the proper stance and motion in order to master the technique.

The result, almost a year later, is KickShot, a small, colorful board game that lets young soccer players challenge each other to miniature matches on a beautifully illustrated cardboard soccer field. Up to six players use a combination of dice and cards like “kick,” “dribble” and “header” to maneuver the ball toward the opposing team’s goal, while the defenders utilize any number of defensive strategies to defend their goal, whether by stealing the ball or forcing it out of bounds. Special referee cards add an extra dimension, as players try to take advantage of fouls and out-of-bounds kicks. KickShot can be geared for different age groups by removing some of these cards from play and thus simplifying the game.

Makhani says his primary motivation in designing the game was to educate young soccer players. The illustrations on the cards are just one example. Card shows a determined-looking billy goat player performing a header. On another card, a grinning raccoon character steals the ball out from under a surprised elephant. The cards are illustrated in a light-hearted style somewhat reminiscent of the movie “Over the Hedge” — sure to delight young soccer players. A closer look however reveals that all the characters are using proper technique and good form. A jackrabbit keeps both feet on the ground and both hands on the ball as he tosses it back into the field; likewise, a goalie strategically positions himself to block an incoming shot. The referee cards are also drawn giving the proper signals.

Ultimately, KickShot is about education.

“In the end, it’s about improving their physical performance on the field,” Makhani said.

On the other hand, Makhani added, it’s also about having fun, just like the sport of soccer itself. Makhani sees himself as part of an emerging group of designers and entrepreneurs in a new field of business – “edutainment.” This industry seeks to blur the line between play and education, minimizing tradeoffs between learning and fun. In keeping with these goals, Makhani has endeavored to stay as close as possible to the rules and procedures of soccer. On the other hand, he’s not about to bog his young players down in boring details and technicalities.

Finding this balance has been a long but fun process. Makhani says the idea for a game came to him early this spring in the middle of the night while he was thinking of how to fine-tune his soccer team’s technique.

“I needed something about as complex as Uno,” he said.

In fact, his first concept greatly resembled Uno. It was played entirely with cards. After cutting out and roughly illustrating a set of cards, Makhani took it to a group of local gamers who meet at Jack in the Box in Moscow.

“They told me that if I am going to make a game about soccer, I really need to make a board game,” Makhani said.

Makhani took his concept back to the drawing board and teamed up with local illustrator and UI graduate Noah Kroese. The game’s final form began to take shape, and at every stage, Makhani sought critique, not only from experts, but also from his target market. In particular, he remembers one boy who complained that there were no horizontal lines running across the board to help mark the position of the ball. Makhani explained that he used tick marks on the side of the board instead because he didn’t want the field to resemble a football field. The boy suggested striping the field in alternating shades of green. The fields look like that after they have been mowed anyway, the boy said.

The first shipment should arrive this spring. Makhani hopes to not just commercialize his ideas, but to help the community.

“I want a product that kids, nonprofits, soccer organizations and schools can all benefit from,” he said.

To that end, he has contacted the local soccer organizations to discuss possible fundraising opportunities for them. If they choose to get on board, he says he’ll donate $7 of every $23.50 sale to a participating organization. In the long run, Makhani said, he would like to donate 50% of his sales to soccer organizations or other non-profits, but at this point, that isn’t feasible.

Even so, he says, “The benefit for them is potentially huge.”

Palouse Games in Pullman and BookPeople in Moscow will carry the game, he said. Here as well, a portion of the proceeds will go to soccer clubs, or, if they don’t want to be involved for whatever reason, to schools or potentially other nonprofits.

KickShot will be marketed in other states and even other countries. Makhani plans to market his game in Houston. His nephew, a soccer referee, attends college there, and has begun laying the groundwork for a marketing campaign there. Soccer clubs will continue to be the primary target.

When his manufacturer first asked to show the game at gaming conventions in Hong Kong, England and Germany, Makhani was surprised.

“At first, I said no,” he admits. “I didn’t want someone to steal the concept.”

He soon changed his mind however. He’s not quite sure what results to expect from these conventions, but he says he’s interested to hear any feedback.

Makhani said he already has ideas for expanding the game, depending on how well-received the initial version is. He is in contact with instructors at the Computer Science and Virtual Technology and Design departments at the University of Idaho, who are creating mobile apps and planning a Virtual Reality project based on KickShot.

No matter how well the game sells, Makhani said he has enjoyed working on it, even though he was surprised by the amount of time he has spent on marketing it. He said he has spent more time on the business side of it than the creative side.

“Creating the game has really only been about 10 percent of the process,” he said. “The other 90 percent is commercialization.”

Even so, it has been a fun process.

“I’m having the best time,” he said.

Two games have been presold, along with agreements from some local stores to carry the game. Check back with us about this story. We’ll keep you up to date.
Makhani can be reached at

Do you have a growing business on the Palouse that you want us to write about? Send us a note.

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Good news for the Palouse region!

Posted by shelleybennett under Moscow, Regional News

Businessweek just named Moscow the best place to raise children based upon median income, unemployment, “housing costs, commute time, poverty, adults’ educational attainment, share of households with children, and diversity.” I agree. Moscow is a great place for children. Great schools, great colleges later on, safe places to play, and a great community overall.
I think Moscow won this last year as well.
Read the full article below.

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Regional experts say economy, building permits are looking up after a couple of down years

Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2012 1:00 am | Updated: 8:38 am, Sat Jun 16, 2012.

By Amelia Verenziano, Daily News staff writer | 0 comments

Optimism isn’t a word many have applied to the economy or real estate lately.

But on the Palouse, “optimism” is the word of the day.

For at least three professionals whose livelihoods rely on knowing the market, signs are good the Pullman-Moscow commercial real estate market is poised to come back from a recession.

It’s evident to Pete Dickinson, planning director for the city of Pullman, when he looks at the variety of building permits coming across his desk in the last year.

There’s optimism in the new Legacy Crossing project in Moscow, where the mixed-use development should be attractive to a variety of consumers and businesses, said Jeff Jones, Latah County Economic Development director.

And for Shelley Bennett, whose Palouse Commercial Real Estate sponsored Tuesday’s Commercial Market Review in Pullman, the optimism is evident in the opportunities for long-term investment and growth, from apartment units to retail and office space.

About 80 people attended the luncheon, where Dickinson, Jones and Bennett discussed the region’s economy, looking back over 20 years of building permits and evaluating the previous 12 months.

It was the second annual such luncheon for Bennett, who has been in regional real estate since the late 1970s. She’s included commercial real estate in her business since 1992 and focused exclusively on it for about two years, when she opened Palouse Commercial Real Estate.

For Bennett, it starts globally and comes back to the local market. According to 24/7 Wall St., an online business site, five of the top 10 fastest-growing real estate markets, in terms of rising sales values, are in the Northwest. They include Lewiston-Clarkston, Coeur d’Alene and the Tri-Cities, as well as places farther away, like Eugene and Medford, Ore.

The fact that they’re in our region matters.

“The Northwest has become a target for people across the country, and with that comes commercial development,” Bennett said. The Palouse needs to take advantage, she said.

The region is already growing. Pullman has grown 21 percent since 2005 and could exceed 30,000 residents this year, Dickinson reported, and growth plans with Washington State University will require more housing for more students – an additional 7,000, perhaps, by 2030.

For Dickinson, the most optimistic sign is the 26 permits he’s seen in the last 12 months.

Ranging from new construction to commercial remodels, the valuation of those permits – $4.7 million – isn’t great.

But the variety – Sweet Mutiny Frozen Yogurt, an addition to Decagon Devices, work at Pullman Family Medicine and the Thomas Hammer Coffee Company downtown, to name a few – means things are looking up from the dismal 2008, the worst in 20 years in Pullman, when there were no new commercial permits and about 10 permits for additions or remodels.

Although 2009 and 2011 were both financially strong for building permits, in the $15 million range, they were driven by single large projects: The new Walmart and the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Solution Delivery Center.

“We’ve been relying more on high-value permits to help us through the last couple of years,” Dickinson said after the event. “Our hope is that we’re going to see more of a diversity in permits, and we’re starting to see that now. I think having multiple projects going on around town is a good sign, and that will lead us back into a good recovery here.”

Jones, an economic development specialist, said the area is poised to recover.

“But it doesn’t mean an instant leveling back out,” he said of unemployment, real estate and other economic indicators.

New projects in Moscow, like the Autozone and Fairfield Inn and Suites, both already approved for Pullman Road sites, are solid signs, he said.

Moscow had about $17 million in permit valuations in 2010. The valuations in 2011 were slightly higher, around $18 million. Jones expects 2012 to be around 2010 levels. 2009 was a peak, with about $35 million in new developments.

For Jones, looking at pre-recession numbers wasn’t worth it.

“That’s done, and we know it was great,” he said of the years before the 2008 market crash. Looking forward is the key, Jones said.

And part of looking forward is the possibility of becoming a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It’s not a small topic, nor is it a small designation change from being a micropolitian statistical area, but it could be necessary for the region’s long-term health, Jones said.

“A big part of that is simply because of the recognition. Once you get there, you’re suddenly on everybody’s list,” he said. “We think there would be some real benefit to that, and we’d show up with additional funding opportunities, as well.”

The Moscow-Pullman/Lewiston-Clarkston area has about 150,000 people, Bennett said. When taken as a region, that means there’s some real power.

“If Lewiston can bring in a TJ Maxx, they’re using our statistics,” she said. “This is a region, and if we can just fix the five miles of two-lane highway between us, we can really be important to each other.”

Bennett plans to have annual Regional Commercial Market Reviews, alternating between Pullman and Moscow sites. The 2013 review will be in Moscow, she said.

For more information, contact Bennett at (208) 882-3800.


Amelia Veneziano can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 233, or by email to

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3 Responses to “Optimism for local commercial real estate – Moscow-Pullman Daily News: Business: palouse commercial,”

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Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

01/24/2012 By: Krista Franks

Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.

Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.

However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.

Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”

In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generation actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.

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2 Responses to “Good News on the Horizon!”

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Posted by shelleybennett under Uncategorized

With mortgage rates dropping nearly a point to 3% it’s a great time to consider re-financing, taking that equity and re-investing in investment property! Call us for a list of lenders in our area.

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BusinessWeek Magazine Ranks Moscow as Top City to raise Your Kids

Posted by shelleybennett under Uncategorized

Thanks to BusinessWeek magazine for ranking our town of Moscow as one of the country’s finest!! Click on attached link to view. Hope you and yours have a very safe Thanksgiving.

Best Place to Raise Kids in Idaho: Moscow
Nearby city: Pullman, Wash.
Population: 23,689
Median family income: $58,124
Avg. school math score: 91.01 (State avg.: 80)
Avg. school reading score: 90.41 (State avg.: 82.63)

Universities have a big presence in Moscow, which is home to the University of Idaho and just across the state line from Washington State University. Camping, mountain biking, snowmobiling, fishing, skiing, and hunting opportunities abound, according to community website Live entertainment is also popular in Moscow, including the university’s Jazz Festival, the Rendezvous in the Park summer music festival, and summer theater.

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Falling Cap Rates, Short Supply Compel Investors to Revisit the Development Option

August 17, 2011

Investors continue to prefer U.S. apartment buildings over most commercial properties, even commercial office space, as total multifamily sales volume jumped nearly 80% in the second quarter over the same perioud last year.

Although still just a fraction of its mid-2007 peak, the nearly $15 billion in sales in the quarter brought total investment for the first half of 2011 to $24.5 billion, according to CoStar Group data.

The average per-unit price of apartment properties reached $88,500 in the quarter — the highest since the third quarter of 2008, said CoStar Global Strategist Michael Cohen during CoStar’s Mid-Year 2011 Multifamily Review & Forecast.

Meanwhile, strong renter demand continues to push down apartment vacancy rates and nudge up rents. With capitalization rates for existing properties seeing strong compression in some high-flying markets, larger multifamily developers have responded by starting to ramp up their development pipelines with new projects.

Top coastal markets continued to dominate sales volume in the first half of 2011, including Washington, D.C with $2.6 billion; Los Angeles, $2.3 billion and the San Francisco Bay Area, $2.1 billion. In Atlanta, where investors have sought a large number of distressed properties, sales totaled $1.3 billion in the first six months. In Phoenix, a housing bust market where fundamentals have picked up markedly, also logged $1.3 billion in sales.

For the second quarter, the top five transaction markets were New York City, with $1.35 billion; D.C., $1.3 billion, Los Angeles, $1.21 billion; Atlanta, $764 million and San Francisco, $689 million. Those markets accounted for about 36% of all sales volume nationwide during the quarter, with CBDs and well-located submarkets seeing the lion™s share of deals.

Institutional investors were by far the most active net apartment buyers, with net purchases of $1.6 billion on total acquisitions of $3.9 billion. REITs, private equity and owner/users were also net buyers, while REITs were also net sellers in a few markets such as Portland, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta.

Average apartment capitalization rates continued to fall in the second quarter to slightly below 7%, while weighed average cap rates, driven by the large high-priced transactions in prime markets, declined to 5.7%. However, cap rates for mid-size value-add and opportunity deals are also declining. Cap rates on smaller transactions remain in a holding pattern.

Top deals in the second quarter included the acquisition of a 25% interest in a 20-property foreclosed portfolio by The Related Cos. from Fannie Mae for about $300 million; TIAA-CREF™s acquisition of The Corner at 200 West 72nd St. in New York from Gotham Organization and Phillip International for $209 million, or 1.07 million per unit; and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board™s $84 million acquisition of a 44% interest in a 654-unit property in Seattle from New Tower Trust Co.

Supply Tight Now, But Construction Starts Are Rising

Job growth has been the traditional source of apartment demand in the past. But in this cycle much of the demand is coming from many former homeowners who have become renters since the beginning of the housing crisis. That trend, combined with a growing number of young people forming households, is driving competition for a diminishing supply of apartments, powering the improvement in apartment fundamental since 2009.

CoStar forecasts total supply additions of just 30,000 units in the 54 largest markets in 2011, just one-third of the pre-recession average of apartment delivered between 2003 and 2008. However, multifamily construction starts are starting to tick up, with more than 70,000 starts in the first two quarters of 2011, suggesting a rise in completions in coming years, particularly in the 2013-2015 time period, Cohen said.

“It™s worth paying attention to the supply front,” Cohen said. “This is where I think the apartment market could be a victim of its own success. While we are forecasting below-average annual supply growth, we need to monitor the permitting data and the starts data.”

Vacancies, Rent Concessions Continue to Decline

Renter demand, while not at the outsized levels of 2010, remains very strong across the board, led by the fast-growing southern metros and the rebound in Detroit. Demand growth equaled about 66,000 units in the first half compared to the extraordinary increase of 105,000 units in the first six months of 2010, which was the strongest since 2005. However, the 45,000 units absorbed in the most recent quarter was more than the absorption of the two previous quarters combined, Cohen noted.

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