Idea #22: Get rid of every last skywalk

The skywalk system at the Bennett Block will be undergoing major modifications this year, as the exterior staircase is removed, but there’s still an ugly, scarcely-used skywalk there, ruining the aesthetics of an otherwise-beautiful building. (PHOTO: travelandrew.wordpress.com)

Can we talk about the elephant in the room?

Why do we have dead skywalks all over the place in downtown Spokane? Many of them no longer receive much use–especially the yellow-roofed system radiating from the Parkade. And don’t even get us started on the “skywalk level” of the Crescent Building. What was once a bustling food court and mall-like shopping area has become a glorified pathway to the STA Plaza.

Hmm…I wonder if there’s a connection there. What if some of downtown’s supposed issues (if you listen to those who complain about the STA Plaza) could be blamed (at least indirectly) not on humans, but on human design? What if the solution were as simple as ripping out a few skywalks?

Perhaps it is. Our skywalks already receive much less use than they once did. Perhaps it’s time for a detailed usage study to determine which crossings receive the most use, and which ones should be removed. Fewer skywalks means more people on sidewalks, which means more “eyes on the street.” Gradually, opportunities arise for more streetfront retail (along Riverside, please) and remodeled office space on what was once the “skywalk level.” The end result? A more efficient use of space, more vitality and foot traffic on the street, and perhaps a lower risk of crime in the downtown core.

What do you think? Should the skywalk system removed or extensively remodeled? Are there improvements that could be made that would clarify the use of the skywalks? Are they for shoppers or for general pedestrians or for businesspeople? Is the three-month benefit worth the twelve-month downsides of the system? Share your thoughts below in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.

Creating a sense of place on North Monroe (NoMo?)

Hoffman Music on North Monroe is a great music store in a terrible building. The current window-less design limits pedestrian interaction and contributes to blight in the area. (PHOTO: Yelp)

Here’s a difficult brainstorming exercise: how can neighborhood leaders and developers work together to create a sense of place on North Monroe? With the area currently serving primarily as a “drive-through” area between downtown and the north side, and a four-lane street with narrow sidewalks limiting pedestrian access, similarities might be drawn to the Hamilton corridor.

Except here, there are old buildings. Historic brick buildings. Like the Jenkins Building, which is set to get underway soon with 10-16 likely-affordable units. There’s a real history here, with great streetfront properties primed for revitalization. With Kendall Yards underway, perhaps it’s time for North Monroe to revisit its plans?

What do you think? Could North Monroe use some TLC? What could be done to help create a sense of place in the area? Streetscape improvements? A road diet, perhaps? What about a leg of a downtown streetcar? Then there are always PR options. We’ve always thought the “NoMo District” title could catch on. Maybe not, though (too similar to “no more”?). What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.