Almost one quarter of downtown Spokane is occupied by surface parking

There are 295 acres of surface parking in Spokane’s urban core.

There are only 1,250 acres of land in the urban core.

That means that 23.6% of all of the land in Spokane’s urban core is occupied solely by the temporary storage of motor vehicles.

If we assume a ridiculously-conservative average density of 25 units per acre, we could infill these parking lots with as many as 7,500 housing units. To put that in perspective, the full build-out of Kendall Yards will include just 1,000 units. (Just 300 housing units have been built in that neighborhood to-date.) Now, not every available block will be occupied by residences; other uses, like office, retail, public squares, civic spaces, are necessary as well. But it’s a useful thought exercise.

This is the next frontier of Spokane development. There’s more space available downtown for redevelopment than three Kendall Yards (which is an 83-acre site). With this much available space, there’s ample opportunity for creativity and innovation in the local development team.

Among other strategies, perhaps we could at the very least compile a comprehensive database of potential infill sites. This database should include information on the ownership of the various parcels, incentives available for redevelopment, and various statistics, like median income in the area, information on available utilities, and nearby amenities. In addition, include information on the planning and development process for these parcels. What type of permit review would be necessary? Would a SEPA application be required? Think of it as a more in-depth version of a site-selector. The result would be a much clearer development picture for developers and investors.

Thankfully, the parking lot that once “graced” the site of the Davenport Grand, across the street from the Spokane Convention Center, is no more. But 25% of the core is still occupied by parking. (PHOTO: Coffman Engineers)

Either way, it’s clear that 23.6% of Spokane’s core being occupied by surface parking is a ridiculous figure, unbecoming of a “city of choice.” We must work aggressively to find solutions and redevelop these sites. We must work carefully with neighbors and stakeholders, as well as the broader Spokane community, to build up, instead of out. And instead of more suburban apartment complexes on the fringe, let’s build urban lofts and apartments downtown.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Were you surprised to learn that nearly 25 percent of downtown Spokane is occupied by surface parking? Do you think that it negatively impacts the experience of being downtown? What do you think can be done to incentivize redevelopment on these sites and on others? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you!

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