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.

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Downtown’s Germond Building gains mid-range to upscale apartments

Downtown’s Germond Building is undergoing a major renovation designed by local favorite Ron Wells. (PHOTO: Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review)

Is the housing market in downtown Spokane starting to thaw out? On Tuesday the Spokesman-Review reported that the Germond Building in downtown Spokane is undergoing a major remodel with upscale apartments being designed and constructed by local developer Ron Wells on the upper floors. Notably, this historic building housed many of the city’s government offices for while a new City Hall was being constructed in the aftermath of the Great Spokane Fire in the 1890s.

Now, the four-story building will play host to eighteen new upscale apartment units on the upper three floors. Ironically, the building is owned by Diamond Parking, which we kinda-sorta railed against on Monday. Wells says that the “Diamonds have become passionate believers in restoring older buildings,” per the Spokesman (of course, tell that to the Rookery Block.) The units will range from 600-1,400 square feet and run from just over $1,000 to $2,400 monthly. The requisite granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, of course, apply. Oh, and retail will remain on the first floor, including two new tenants set to move in later this year. New residents move will be able to move in by November.