Boise’s City Council last summer did something pretty dramatic. In order to begin to fill demand for downtown housing, they announced a plan to award award grants and loan guarantees for apartments and condominiums in their downtown core. The goal? 1,000 new housing units within five years. Surprisingly, it’s not too ridiculous of an idea. Numerous developers have already jumped into the fray, planning to make use of special financing options, help with water and sewer from the local urban renewal agency, and of course, these grants.
It’s time Spokane set such an ambitious goal. 1,000 downtown units by 2020. Mark my words: we will make it happen. And we will do it with an attractive mix of housing options–from low-income apartments to luxury condominiums. Already Ron Wells plans to spend nearly $18 million remodeling the Ridpath Hotel into 200 low- and lower-middle income apartments and six luxury condominiums. Assuming this project reaches completion (Wells’ track record speaks for itself, although the Ridpath project has been plagued by delays), we’d be already one-fifth of the way to our goal. We could easily reach our goal if more developers jump on board. But they have to have some sort of incentive in place.
Adding residential to the mix downtown grows the population without increasing traffic or overburdening critical public services, like water, sewer, and fire protection. It adds more eyes to the street, reducing crime and making urban places more inviting for shoppers and residents alike. Suddenly the STA Plaza becomes an amenity, rather than a supposed eyesore. And perhaps most importantly, it grows the local economy by orders of magnitude. More residents downtown means more customers for local businesses like Nudo and Boots Bakery. It means more patrons at the Bartlett and more users on the Centennial Trail and in Riverfront Park. It means we’ll be better taking advantage of all that Spokane and the region has to offer. Moreover, study after study has proven that millennials and baby boomers alike prefer to live where all of their services are within easy walking distance. What better place than downtown?
Incentives need not be large. Boise is using a $150,000 fund from federal grants and lease payments on city-owned railroad right-of-way. Spokane certainly can find a chunk of money in its budget to make a similar investment. Perhaps a larger contribution or some creative development agreement could fill in the Rookery Block hole, or create a beautiful apartment/condominium complex across the street from a soon-to-be-revitalized Riverfront Park.
It’s time. Spokane is waiting. Having residents downtown pays long-term dividends. Let’s reinvest in downtown.
We don’t post too much about Coeur d’Alene here at The #spokanerising Project, but we couldn’t resist bringing the news that another new high-rise will soon join McEuen and Parkside Towers on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s north shore. Ground will be broken on One Lakeside this spring in anticipation of substantial completion within two years. The fourteen-story, 173-foot tall tower will feature a large increase in units for the lot and a fancy-pants rooftop pool.
While the project was delayed due to a lawsuit from owners of the condo building north of this site, that lawsuit has now been tossed and construction will begin promptly, first with demolition of the existing two-story apartment building currently on the lot.
For more renderings of One Lakeside, follow us after the break.
Here’s an interesting project that never got off the ground before it was turned over to new developers and scaled back. Manito Park Place, to be located at the intersection of 20th and Grand Boulevard directly across from Manito Park, would have featured 27 units spanning four floors. At 76,000 square feet total, with units getting between 750 and 1900 square feet each, it would have been the largest condominium complex near the park. Understandably, the units were to be luxury units at a luxury price point.
Rob Brewster called off the development in early 2008 as a result of neighborhood opposition to the high density of the proposed complex. By February 2008, the site had been rezoned to disallow the type of dense project which had been proposed. Instead, the site was developed with a more modern design and ten units.
Here it is under construction. Note how small the lot would have been to get 27 units on the site. Neighbors objected to increases in traffic, feared decreases in safety for young children, and opposed the commercialization of what was once a neighborhood street.
This Thursday we bring you Week 1 of a multi-week series focused on projects that would have happened had the economy not crashed. Many of the projects that we will profile were ongoing at the same time as each other, and as such, something had to give. There couldn’t be ten new major downtown high-rises at once, could there?
Indeed, there couldn’t.
Today we feature 153 South Wall, a project which was originally proposed in July of 2006 during the height of the downtown residential boom. The lot, purchased by Prium Companies of Tacoma for $750,000, would have been developed into 126 condominiums, with about seven floors of parking atop two floors of street front retail. In June of 2007, the project was shelved due to high construction costs. The lot was apparently sold to Inland Northwest Health Systems in July of 2009, although the site is still being used primarily as a parking lot.
Of course, this is exactly the type of infill project that Spokane so desperately needs, and we wish that it could have come to fruition.
To read more on 153 S. Wall, visit the Spokesman here or Prium Companies here. You can also see the Inlander here for a good article on the circumstances surrounding its shelving.
We'll be more active here soon, but for now you can find us on Facebook and monthly in Spokane-Coeur d'Alene Living.Spokane Rising on Facebook