Chris and Marianne Bornhoft Build a Legacy One Opportunity at a Time

by Jessica Simpkins, MD

You may have seen their signs around Spokane and Airway Heights, but you probably don’t know much about the evolution of Bornhoft Real Estate. Chris and Marianne Bornhoft are partners in marriage and in business.

Marianne Bornhoft recounts that when she first moved to Spokane in 1989, she was broke but hopeful. She became an antique dealer in 1994 and a real estate broker in 1995. She’s been a REALTOR® with Windermere Manito since 2002 even served as the 2013 President of the Spokane Association of REALTORS. Marianne has a twinkle in her eye when she notes that Chris was first her client before they became partners.

“I’m the idea maker in the relationship and I am very involved in the community. Since moving to Spokane, I’ve probably been involved with over 60 local non-profit organizations. I was the former President of Project Beauty Share ®, and helped Kalispel North Quest create their charitable giving program as their 20th employee. I really enjoy giving back to the community however I can,” Marianne shares.

As for Chris, he is often tasked with execution. Chris notes that he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “When I was in third grade, I set up my bedroom like it was an office and people would have to look over my desk to greet me,” Chris laughs. “In 6th grade I started my own lawn mowing business and saved up money to buy my own car in high school. I consider myself an opportunist: I remain open to opportunities and pursue them when they make sense.”

Chris has been in development since 2003. He credits two men for being crucial mentors throughout his career. “Partnerships are key. I was very attracted to people who allowed me to explore my own ideas and opportunities. Dick Vandevert, who recently passed away, was a tremendous mentor to me. He always had multiple things going on but was also laid back about everything. He never got too stressed, too worried, too upset. He always tried to be kind, respectful and always had time to talk. Duane Brelsford was another mentor to me and he showed me what it means to be a fearless negotiator, to be bold and confident, and to diversify your development. We’ve tried to model our business after both Dick and Duane,” Chris explains.

Chris and Marianne started their company ten years ago, first as real estate brokers. “People started asking us if there were any good investments we knew about. We gradually began to diversify,” Chris recounts. Their first new project was to renovate the Chestnut apartments in Clarkston.

Next they began exploring new development. “We started building Thirty First Place on a vacant lot right before the pandemic hit. It was a total disaster. It took 21 months to build, we were over budget, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But when we finished, it actually worked out really well. People needed housing opportunities during the pandemic, and ultimately the project was a tremendous success despite our setbacks throughout the build,” Chris shares.

Additionally, the Bornhofts will soon be opening Garage Lodge, a luxury storage condo complex. Chris shares the story of how this came to be: “With 13 different LLCs, we had a warehouse that served many functions for us, from cold storage to antiques, to equipment for renovations, to items for staging. In 2019, the state told us we were going to have to sell our warehouse due to eminent domain. At that time, we couldn’t find a comparable space to what we had. I began looking around to buy a storage unit. There was only one location that had a unit for sale, and we’d been told there were other interested buyers. I spent that time walking around and talking to the other current owners about this process. From that came the inspiration for Garage Lodge.”
The Garage Lodge is a complex located in Airway Heights comprised of 23 customizable units that can be used as a warehouse, shop, office, or storage unit. While they are not built for living in, they are all sold individually as condos (like a residential condo) and provide many opportunities for hobbyists, companies, and more. Each owner will have access to a common lodge that features a kitchen, two bathrooms, conference room, big screen TV, secure mailboxes, a business center, and an outdoor patio.

“We plan to host a variety of events for our owners to come together and socialize. Chris and I each have our own unit that are connected to one another so we can enjoy our hobbies and work without getting in each other’s way. It’s so cool to come full circle in my career having started with the Kalispel Tribe in developing their charitable giving program and now expanding that community with Garage Lodge. I see so much potential in the West Plains,” Marianne shares.

Marianne and Chris believe that what sets them apart from other commercial real estate companies and developers is the quality of their work. “Real estate is a slow game. It takes a long time to move a big ship. We want to be very strategic, opportunistic, and mindful. We are in it for the long haul, to put money back into our properties and back into the community. We don’t want to grow too fast or do too much too quickly,” Chris explains.

Come and join Chris and Marianne to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Garage Lodge on June 9th from 11am-2pm. Mark Losh, the CEO of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce will lead the ribbon cutting at noon. And in case anyone is curious, Marianne wants you all to know: “Chris may wear the pants, but I pick them out.”

Learn more about Spokane’s Premier Commercial Real Estate Company company and all of the Bornhofts’ amazing ventures at You can also call 509-279-0249 to get in touch with their office.

Chris and Marianne Bornhoft

Chris and Marianne Bornhoft