Across the city they sit. We've all seen them. We even have our favorites that we quietly scheme some of the most elaborate designs and uses imaginable. They used to stick out, and on occassion they still do, but for the most part they linger, gradually sucking the life out of Spokane's urban environment. Sometimes the reason is nothing more than neglect, while other times a more insipid foe takes it's toll: SPECULATION [gasp!].
Yes, Spokane has an enticing selection of some of the finest vacant lots in the region. MetroSpokane has done some survey work as of late and put our own spin on The Inlander's BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST issue. We've hit the pavement and selected our First Annual Best of Spokane's Vacant Lots.
For our first effort we've established some criteria to keep it simple:
- The lot(s) must have been vacant for at least 5 years
- The lot(s) must exist within Spokane's urban core or adjacent to it
- The lot(s) must be larger than 1 acre
We've settled on three properties or groups of properties. Frankly, ranking them was tough, so we decided not to, and to let our readers comment on their favorites of the three. Have at it.
- Kendall Yards Property - Over 70 acres - This parcel is a no-brainer. The area is well over 70 acres and is obviously the largest and most talked about parcel in recent years. It has finally shed the yoke that was its previous owner, Metropolitan Mortgage, and has been reborn as Kendall Yards under the golden hand of developer Marshall Chesrown. Adjacent to the river, the downtown core, the Monroe St. Commercial Corridor, and the West Central neighborhood, the site has much promise. While detailed plans for the site haven't been released yet to the public, cues from previous work of the urban design group [Design Workshop Inc.] tasked with site development leads us to believe this new neighborhood will be substantial.
- 70% of the South Side of Spokane Falls Blvd. - About 4.5 Acres - If the City of Spokane Valley's image is marred by Sprague Ave, we in Spokane have our own slice of low density, auto-centric, nirvana in the form of Spokane Falls Blvd. This is a string of vacant lots between Division St. and Howard St. that last saw any significant action during the Ford Administration when a number of buildings were being razed for Expo '74 parking. The area has a broad mix of owners some local, some absentee, and all waiting for that precious moment when interest rates are at record lows, living downtown will again become trendy, and the Gondola at Riverfront Park is finally refurbished [sarcasm].
- Heylman-Masonic Site - Over 6.5 acres - Most of this area is owned by Heylman Properties or the Spokane Masonic Temple Foundation. The firm of Warren Cummings Heylman and Partners designed a few notable structures around town. Most notably The Parkade, the Spokane Regional Health building, and these apartments [click here]. The site is sandwiched between Riverside to the south and Main to the north as you approach Peaceful Valley from the downtown. It's our favorite for a number of reasons: Walking proximity to the central business district, it's location on the river, and some amazing topography that provides incredible vistas of the Monroe St. Bridge and the aforementioned Kendall Yards site. The reality is, its current use as a Diamond parking lot is an urban atrocity.