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.

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