Apartments for students planned for former Academy senior-living facility

February 3, 2019

The Academy, a former senior-living facility near Gonzaga University, will be transformed into student housing.

An environmental review filed with the city by Spokane-based DCI Engineers indicates plans to build 95 student apartments, which will be a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom units at 1216 N. Superior St.

Construction is anticipated to begin this spring and completed later this year.

Seattle-based Merrill Gardens, which had been owner and manager of the senior-living facility, sold the building for $4.7 million last year to Utah-based Stellar Living, a family-owned and operated company that provides independent-living, assisted-living and respite services at eight facilities in Western Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.

The sale generated some criticism, as several senior citizens, some who had lived there for several years, were evicted from the building as a result.

Kyle Reiter, vice president of operations for Merrill Gardens, told The Spokesman-Review last year the company sold the property because it was struggling to keep up with maintenance of the historic building.

Adam Benton, senior vice president of Stellar Living, told the newspaper last year the company was undecided if the building would have apartments or senior independent-living units.

The Academy was designed by architect Patrick Donohoe and built in 1891 as a private school for young women, known as the Holy Names Academy.

By 1902, the school boasted more than 235 students, prompting an expansion. Architects Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel added wings to each end of the building. Five years later, it became one of the state’s first private schools to offer a high school curriculum and teacher training courses for young women.

The school began offering a bachelor’s degrees in education in 1938, and Holy Names College was built next door in 1941. The college, now the site of senior-living facility Maplewood Gardens, moved to the former Fort George Wright grounds in 1960.

Holy Names Academy closed in 1975 as the school faced dwindling enrollment numbers and expensive maintenance. In its more than 80 years of operation, about 5,000 students attended the school.

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