Urban infill “Hamilton Project” takes next step toward construction with SEPA application

Preliminary drawings from Spokane's permitting website indicate that the mixed-use building at 1002 N Hamilton will include streetfront retail with apartments above. (PHOTO: spokanepermits.org)
Preliminary drawings from Spokane’s permitting website indicate that the mixed-use building at 1002 N Hamilton will include streetfront retail with apartments above. (PHOTO: spokanepermits.org)

We tend not to post on Spokane Rising about projects that have not yet been announced publicly, but this one just happened to catch our eye on the City of Spokane’s Citizen Access permitting website. We noticed the “Hamilton Project,” as it is named in the permitting database, a few months ago, when developer Ferdinand CJF, LLC applied for a Pre-Development Conference (typically a first, optional step in the building process). But now the Washington State-registered LLC has applied for a SEPA Review, which indicates a level of seriousness we have not yet seen at this parcel.

The project is located at 1002 N Hamilton, which is just across the street from the parking lot for Gonzaga University’s Madonna residence hall. Mercifully, the project seems to adhere to the Hamilton Corridor Form-Based Code (PDF link) despite its location outside of the applicability area. That means that it includes a mixed-use design, a limited street setback, and parking in the rear of the facility. Project plans include 51 residential units above over 17,000 square feet of leasable streetfront retail at a cost of over $11 million. Perhaps most importantly, the project scale and architectural design seems to fit in with the surrounding area. When we first saw the renderings, we thought we were looking at Gonzaga’s Coughlin residence hall, which shares a similar brick-and-stucco construction. Either way, we can’t wait to see this project come to fruition and will continue to keep our readers updated as it passes through the plan review and building permit application process.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Are you excited to see such a substantial mixed-use project on the Hamilton Corridor? Do you see the Hamilton Corridor emerging in the future as a viable neighborhood center a la Garland or North Monroe? Do you see this as a triumph for advocates of infill? Share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, in the comments section below, or in person. We love to hear from you.

Gonzaga District set to receive 60 additional student-housing units

This lot, at 940 N Ruby, is set to be transformed into a major 60-unit apartment complex aimed at Gonzaga University students. (PHOTO: Google Street View)
This lot, at 940 N Ruby, is set to be transformed into a major 60-unit apartment complex aimed at Gonzaga University students. (PHOTO: Google Street View)

A California-based developer is getting ready to start construction on a 60-unit apartment complex aimed at Gonzaga students but otherwise unaffiliated with the university. At 940 N Ruby, he will construct a five-story building with surface parking underneath residential units, a la Kennedy Apartments. A Pre-Development Conference and SEPA Review have been completed with an apparent determination of non-significance. The city’s permitting database has not yet been updated with appropriate approval documents, but with SEPA listed as “Closed,” it appears that this project is ready to get going.

While the project won’t be quite as pedestrian-friendly as the Kennedy Apartments (there will be a surface parking lot between the building and Ruby Street), five-story construction should add some much-needed density along this particular stretch of the Division/Ruby corridor. Project plans are available on the city’s Online Permit System. Combined with the Ruby Suites (former Burgan’s Block), Kennedy, and other Gonzaga-Downtown housing, this area has in seven short years increased its housing supply by orders of magnitude. Especially when you consider that 60 units here will probably house around 200 students.

No word on whether this is the 60-unit housing development KXLY reported as planned for “between the University District and downtown.” Anyone have any idea?

What do you think? Are you excited about the addition of new residential units on the Division/Ruby corridor? Are you excited about infill possibilities between Division and Ruby? What’s next for this area? Share your thoughts in our comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you.

Gonzaga wayfinding on point

Gonzaga has recently started upgrading its wayfinding signage. It's excellent.
Gonzaga recently began to upgrade its wayfinding signage. We think it’s excellent.

Gonzaga University is in the midst of an incredible growth spurt, with increased enrollment and the construction of a brand-new University Center to replace the aged (and now-demolished) COG. What better way to mark such transformation with a new universal wayfinding and signage scheme that feels modern, fresh, and thoughtful, but also traditional, intellectual, and refined.

Installation of the new signage began on the west end of campus near the Jundt Art Museum and the Tilford Center building. More signs will continue to go up across the university as signs are replaced and repaired. We think the upgraded signs could serve as a model for other universities, both in the area and nationally. And hey, STA and Riverfront Park could always use upgrades.

See another construction photo after the break.

Continue reading “Gonzaga wayfinding on point”

Idea #12: Build high-quality graduate programs (in diverse fields) at local universities

Gonzaga University offers a top-notch undergraduate experience, but their graduate programs lag painfully behind. Spokane’s long-term success in becoming a destination for young people hinges partially on high-quality graduate programs. (PHOTO: Dwayne Wright)

Myth: Spokane will never have young, urban professionals because young people tend to move away to go to school. Moreover, it does not have the jobs or the lifestyle opportunities to support them.

That myth has been told more than perhaps any other to describe the demise of culture in Spokane. But here’s the thing: it’s completely and utterly false. In terms of potential to attract the type of young, urban professionals that Spokane needs to thrive, we have as much or more than any other comparable city. We have four universities located within city limits, with Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Washington State University located in the University District downtown and Whitworth University holding up the fort in north Spokane. We have a low cost of living, an abundance of affordable housing, and  We great food, excellent shopping, and outstanding cultural opportunities right downtown and four seasons of recreation within as little as a five-minute drive (or less!) Everything seems to be right for Spokane to become an “it” place.

So why hasn’t it?

The answer is probably more complicated than just the issue of education, but education plays a big role. WSU Spokane focuses almost entirely on medicine and nursing, which are great, but hardly harness the innovation and creativity of students. (And, it should be noted, that’s probably for the best. The thought of a doctor innovating a new treatment off-the-cuff and without guidance conjures up frightening possibilities.) When they aren’t educating students for the healthcare profession, they’re providing MBAs and HPAs to professionals already in stable careers. Gonzaga University, meanwhile, has gutted its graduate engineering program, choosing instead to focus almost entirely on undergraduates. It’s the same story at EWU Spokane.

In order to grow our young, urban professional population and increase the availability of high-paying, high-quality jobs, our universities must broaden their scope and offer more, better graduate programs to more people.

I’m thinking of graduate engineering. I’m thinking of entrepreneurship. I’m thinking of computer science and engineering. I’m thinking of information systems. I’m thinking of economics. (There’s an innovation and high-tech economy in Spokane that sits just bubbling under the surface, waiting to be explored!)

The sooner Spokane, or better, the State of Washington, realizes this and provides benefits to universities for adding new programs, the better. We need graduate education in order to thrive, and the status quo will not cut it. It’s time to build graduate education in Spokane.

What are your thoughts? Share your comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, on other social media, or even amongst your friends in person. We want to hear from you!