Wanted: Regional and national businesses to fill the Wonder Building

Wonder Building Spokane
The Wonder Building is the most exciting adaptive reuse in Spokane since the SIERR Building at McKinstry Station was completed in 2010. Like that building, the Wonder is expected to host businesses working in the creative economy. (PHOTO: Wolfe Architecture Group)

On Thursday, the development team behind the Wonder Building announced that the building would be marketed for lease by NAI Black and JLL to regional- and national-scale office tenants. Naturally, given that we once called this our favorite building in Spokane, we were quite interested in any new details which could be gleaned from this release.

The Wonder Building, located at 821 W. Mallon on the North Bank, will, at build-out, include 112,000 square feet of total space across three floors, including a basement and a 12,000 square foot public market on the ground floor. In addition, a rooftop patio and conference center will feature panoramic views of Riverfront Park, the Spokane River, and Downtown Spokane. The building is expected to be ready for move-in sometime this summer. We already knew about many of these details.

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The Value of Public Space in Urban Environments

“Pocket parks” like this one in New York City can create vibrant urban gathering spaces that entice passersby and residents alike. And they pay long-term economic dividends too! (PHOTO: Sustainable Cities Collective)

Urban Land reports on the importance of public spaces in making livable communities work. Specifically, the article focuses on the value of parks, gardens, rooftop gardens, and other spaces in urban environments, as well as the return that they generate. The High Line, in New York City, for example, cost the city $115 million in public funds and $44 million from the private sector, but increased boosted property values around the 1.5-mile elevated former freight rail line by as much as $2 billion and added 12,000 jobs to the local economy. That’s a killer ROI.

In addition, the article notes that safety and accessibility are key, as is adaptability. If the park or public space cannot be used for other purposes, then in many cases it may as well not be built. Hopefully the planners of the Riverfront Park Master Plan will keep this in mind when working on designs. We’ve also heard that the South Hill Coalition has some pocket parks and other small urban spaces up their sleeves as well, so perhaps we could see some nice urban spaces in neighborhoods in our future.

What do you think? Could Spokane use more urban spaces? What does the ROI for the High Line tell you about the economic potential of open space and public space investment? Share your comments here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you!

Spokane Public Market abruptly announces imminent closure

Spokane Public Market announced on Friday that it would close by this Friday, March 7
Spokane Public Market announced on Friday that it would close by this Friday, March 7. (PHOTO: Spokane Public Market)

Last Friday, Spokane Public Market announced that it would close its doors by this coming Friday, March 7. The Market opened at 2nd and Browne in 2011 to great expectations, but tepid customer support. The year-round food and artisanal-item market was designed as a centrally-locating gathering place that would be quickly expanded and remodeled into a more attractive space. These plans didn’t pan out, and within a year, it was controversially begging for support on its Facebook account, on posts that have since been deleted.

We can’t help but lament the loss of the Spokane Public Market as a civic resource, but we also question the back story behind the move toward its closure. The market has been languishing for years, with no major changes in order to attract more customers and vendors. With nearly 5,000 Facebook likes and a strong base of vocal support, we question whether everything that could have been done to save the market was done.

Regardless, Spokane Public Market will close March 7. Perhaps the space should be reopened as a combination public market-events center-fast casual food court a la San Jose’s San Pedro Square Market?

What are your thoughts on the Spokane Public Market closure? Share your comments below, engage with us on social media, and contribute a post in response. We want to hear from you.