26-story “Falls Tower” near University District promises to add around 200 units downtown

Here's a view of the proposed "Falls Tower" as it would look from Spokane Falls Boulevard. Note the large parking garage and comparatively narrow building. (PHOTO: Spokane Permits)
Here’s an early conceptual view of the proposed “Falls Tower” as it would look from Spokane Falls Boulevard. Note the large parking garage and comparatively narrow building. (PHOTO: Spokane Permits)

Back in November, a Spokane Valley dentist and developer, proposed a $50 million, 35-story high-rise at the corner of Division and Spokane Falls Boulevard in downtown Spokane. Many believed the proposal to be unlikely to ever come to fruition. But now, the lot at 230 N Division has resurfaced in a new proposal.

Lanzce Douglass has submitted an application to Spokane Development and Planning Services for a Pre-Development Conference on the proposal, which would construct a 26-story building which he calls “The Falls Tower.” It is unknown whether Philip Rudy, the dentist, is still involved. The new mixed-use high-rise would include 15,978 square feet of retail on the first floor, followed by about two dozen floors of apartments. That’s around 200 units (studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms). A six-story parking garage would also be constructed. In total, 26 floors would be constructed. Note the slightly more varied architectural style from Spokane’s most recent project, the Davenport Grand Hotel. Still, windows seem to follow a relatively generic form and minimal balconies or interesting architectural treatments are included.

While typically the Spokane Municipal Code would not allow a building of such height so far outside of the urban core, Douglass has applied for bonus height provisions which allow additional height for inclusions of important architectural and environmental features. For example, the project will have pedestrian-scale lighting, seating, and trees. There will be covered bicycle parking and bicycle lockers on the first floor. And the project will use stone or brick on the first three floors, at the very least. A setback will create a generous public plaza featuring public art. The Pre-Development Conference application also includes significantly more detailed questions than the previous application, including questions related to the logistics of construction. These factors, including to the more clearly fleshed out proposal, lead Spokane Rising to conclude that this is a serious proposal that is likely to come to fruition.

That said, it’s a large proposal, with significant potential to transform the east side of downtown. Currently, that area is undergoing a significant renaissance, with a highly active nightlife scene centered on Borracho, Zola, and the Globe Bar and Kitchen. The addition of the WSU medical school to existing facilities at the University District, the expansion of the WWAMI program, the construction of STA’s Central City Line and the University District Pedestrian Bridge, and continued progress on adding residential units downtown mean that this project shows considerable promise. We’re excited to watch as it works its way through the process.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are you excited for the potential construction of a major new mixed-use project on the East End of downtown? Would you rent an apartment there? What types of businesses would you like to see on the first floor? And what do you think about the architectural style? Could it use further treatment, or are you happy with where developers are at this moment? Share your thoughts below, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.

  • Thanks for the write up. Any idea of the total height? If built, this would still be the tallest building in the downtown area, correct?

    • Anthony Gill

      The total height according to the Site Plan would be 280′, making it the second-tallest building in the city, after the Bank of America Financial Center.

      • Mark

        Although this building would appear the tallest I would imagine, as street level at this location is more than 8′ higher than BOA. Am I correct? Not that it would be a huge difference…

      • kthompson

        emporis show the finished height at 290 feet which would make it the tallest by 2 feet

  • thank you sir. Keep on’ keepin on.

    • Mark

      Although this building would appear the tallest I would imagine, as street level at this location is more than 8′ higher than BOA. Am I correct? Not that it would be a huge difference…

  • I guess this is a good thing. The design is not very interesting, yet better than the Davenport Grand Hotel. It would be replacing a parking lot and some concrete block buildings. It is not right on the river. Why not?

  • Rick Hastings

    No idea which elevation this is, but I see no indication of anything more than a parking garage on the first level – and it appears this treatment comprises 3/4 of this particular elevation. Sorry, this will create a pedestrian wasteland, regardless of materials used. Mr. Douglass, consider turning this design sideways, putting services/retail across the entire first floor of the primary two facades (Division and Falls), carrying the residential units up 5-7 stories above, and hiding the parking garage behind the residential – away from the street. Folks, building design needs to be less focused on itself than it does focused on creating conditions for a lively, beautiful public realm (streetscape).

  • Nikole

    Oh look another parking garage with no street level activity. Spokane, you should demand better. Your downtown/university district deserves better.

    • Nikole

      I’ve always liked you Rick! 🙂

  • Andrew Waddilove

    It’s a good building design, but I wish the windows were designed bigger, allowing the tower to be more glass, and allow more retail or restaurant space on the 1st floor of the parking garage part of it.
    Other than that, I like it. It’ll be a welcoming addition to the Spokane skyline.

  • K thompson

    The vox design was nicer. Why not build this to be the tallest building in Spokane instead of coming up just a few feet short. And can’t they add some better design to it, this is 2015 after all looks like an old 1970’s design. Why not add a few floors of Class A office space then the apartments? Take it up to 30 floors and a height of over 300 ft.

  • Make a statement with this project, it’s at the core of downtown crossroads to U. district, N.Division, and the downtown core business convention center area. Go back to the drawing boards, do the 35 story original concept for size along with looking at more unique architecture. Don’t sell Spokane short.

  • We need a large high-rise building with a modern design. Make Spokane have a more vibrant skyline. As much as I appreciate Walt Worthy and putting money into downtown and adding to the skyline. His building designs are underwhelming to say the least in terms of design.

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