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Comments

MK

Love Rencorp. While so many others just talk, they keep churning out building after building all over downtown. I hope they can sell some of those Edge condos though, they look quite empty.

Dazzee

RenCorp's prices are too high for what the client gets. Usually marginal or worse ( you call them "electric" or "edgy") neighborhoods. I'm all for reclaiming messy neighborhoods but even the finished product is just average these days. They have spunk though and do keep churning projects out. Congrats to their willingness to take chances.

Jim

Yes kudos to Rencorp. Preserving historical architecture and breathing new life into the downtown core.It's what makes cities vibrant and interesting, otherwise you end up with tacky strip mall built on the cheap deveopment. We all know it well!Prices seem high but not compared to the west side or Portland. We just need to attrac more industry that pays enough to allow us to afford market rate housing. Why is all of the software industry and related business located in Redmond and Bellevue? It seems that office space here could be much more reasonable to attract such endeavors. Are we making the pitch on behalf of Spokane to these people? Is it that we do not possess the trained/educated workforce i.e software engineers?
Any thoughts Metro and readers..?

Silent Bahb

I'm curious, Dazzee, how will those "marginal or worse" neighborhoods ever improve if Rencorp and others DON'T raise the standard of the improvements(which always includes a raise in rent)? And if those neighborhoods really are so bad, isn't average an improvement?

And to Jim, while I laud the idea of more higher-paying industries I caution anyone on betting on the software industry. I have watched both San Jose (Silicon Valley) and Sacramento commercial development go downhill over the years as they cater to software and computer industries. They may have a better tax base (once the subsidies run out) - but they traded the soul of their city for it.

(Man, I must be cranky today.)

Jim

Good commnents Silent One. Yeah San Jose and Sacratomato may have have sold their souls. There isn't too much available property nor open space remaining in either of those cities. I think we are a long way from that however. We just need a pulse.
Noticed mention in SR today about plans moving for additional work on Havermale. Mr. Brewster alludes to the city not being intersted in Vox. Isn't it more related to lack of demand especially in the current financing climate??! I don't think we are in anyway near ready for Kendall Yards AND a project on the scale of the once trumped Vox Tower. Seems like we are always trying to be more than what we are...

MK

I don't imagine the Vox tower would have anymore apartments in it than one of the numerous suburban apartment complexes we have all over. It would be a unique experience in Spokane (except for Riverfalls Tower) and would not even be a blip compared to what Kendall Yards aspires to.

Dazzeetrader

1.Silent.... raise the rent in marginal neighborhoods? Will this extra rent or condo prices just appear? What new jobs will generate these higher paying jobs? Your guess would be as good as mine. WHat new jobs will be generated?
2. The Vox was a nice dream. 1 thing happened and 1 things didn't happen. A. The jobs that might generate income sufficient to pay for those condos haven't materialised. B. Takes such a long time to get anything through this City, it's nearly impossible to build anything large.....at least THAT large. Same with Kendall yards. Takes so long to get anything through the City, the holding costs alone defeat the project. Why so long to get a project moving? It's the structure put in place....and it's been this way for an awful long time. Ask yourself who structures the practices at City Hall and you'll have some idea why things appear obstructed.<--and yes that's the term I chose.
3. Those higher paying jobs depend on higher paying industry . Where is it? I don't live in Spokane but I recently spent 6 months there to take care of some older parents. It's just not ever going to happen unless and until the City frees itselffrom the same people that saddled it with $30 million in debt so the city would pay for a garage worth maybe $10 million.
Nobody can compete or develop effectively. So why try? Back to RenCorp....small projects, cheaply acquired in marginal neighborhoods and then overpriced. Hey it's a livin.
Expect nothing big though. Not even Kendall yards....sorry to say. Love the Spokane area but it won't grow unless somebody gives permission.

Kate

Aww. This is just a lovely little project. I'll have to get a look at it next time I'm home, it would be fun to see how that area is evolving.

As for "The Edge" I do wonder why they're not selling. But from a look at the website, I submit it may be a fatal brew of exclusive market and somewhat, uh, edgier atmosphere in the neighborhood. Getting a loft like that requires a certain commitment to the area, doesn't it?

"The Edge" as a name also reminds me of something that happened to a project of mine last semester. It was supposed to be a marketing concept for a small infill project, a passel of townhouses in an inner-ring-suburban area. It was a cute hypothetical project, but the area was definitely... marginal. We decided to be open about that and treat it as a kind of marketing asset.

Our genius (in our eyes) slogan? "Life on the Edge!"

Our tutor shot it down before we could even get it on paper. His contention? "People who are at a stable enough time in their lives to buy a housing unit DO NOT want to be told they're living on the edge," he grumped at us.

Coincidence? Or some kind of cross-cultural and even cross-linguistic truth? You be the judge...

MK

There's some sense that people in Spokane can't afford $250,000 - $400,000 condos. It's not true. Most people that I know and live around me live in homes that cost that much. My home costs that much.

The fundamental question is what is it going to take to get someone to spend $250,000 on a 800 sq. ft. condo when they can get 2500 square feet with a yard for the same price.

I think the answer is that for some people it is worth it - these are the people who bought condos and live downtown right now. But for most people it's not worth it. This is slowly changing as the number of people living downtown climbs from the hundreds to the thousands but it's going to take time.

Everybody wants a magic bullet to make Spokane _______ (whatever you want it to be). If you want it to be a vibrant, economically stable city, then you might need to wait longer. The process is slow and its happening right now - but you have to be able to take a step back and view things from a distance. If you're young and you need to live in an exciting big city then you probably need to move west. For me and my family it's pretty much perfect, but that's just my opinion.

Dazzeetrader

35 years ago, Denver and Sacramento were much the same as SPokane in both size and population. They grew and SPkane didn't. Somebody made a choice to NOT grow and to NOT diversify. Somebody made that choice for this inland slice of Washington. Across the border in Idaho, somebody said "enough is enough"!
And because there was a border in place, he made it stick.
Just look at the overall picture.

And no, there aren't enough commerce in Spokane to allow but a handful of people to spend $400K on downtown living. Certainly not in those infill projects. Look at the Edge project. Nice view of RR tracks and trains interrupting sleep. Further, the "girls" seem to be on the stroll a few blocks away. Nice! Not much of an investment opportunity unless other people's money fund the deal.

This beautiful region needs a complete ground up change. Because City has been crippled by peying off somebody else's property, don't look there. State puts it money in Seattle and won't fund a promised N/S freeway.
Feds was massively indentured. Besides the US Senators are Seattle based and controlled.

How this place can free itself is unknown but don't be looking for big growth unless outside forces intervene. Unless somebody can insert some income producing jobs (not service jobs), and fundamentally change the region, projects will fold over time..... VOX?, Kendall Yards?, anyone? Sabey tried and eventually he left. Why fight here when more money can be made without the brain strain elsewhere?

This is fundamental to growth in a community. Think about it. This place is too good to be somebody's cash machine.

Kate

MK, I think you're absolutely right. People are highly mobile in what you might call the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area, and aren't there also still quite a few good jobs out in the exurbs? (I'm from Liberty Lake originally and I'm guessing it's not the only place with a tech cluster like that in the area... Am I way off here?) Also the NW is traditionally an area that puts an emphasis on our relationship to nature, privacy and green space.

So in the final cost-benefit analysis, a lot of households will always pick a single-family detached with a big yard. They don't need to be downtown where it's noisy and maybe a little skeezy and there's a ton of hardscape. On a street that's featured in "your mom" jokes all over local high schools.

Dazzeetrader, are we sure that "big growth" is really not happening in the Spokane area? There's a different kind of ever-expanding edge in the region, namely the place where exurban development hits farmland and landscape. Newman Lake anyone? Every time I come back for a visit I drive out toward Coeur d'Alene to see what's going on and my jaw just hits the floor. So many new houses! It's unbelievable.

So in terms of attracting residents, Spokane's downtown is really up against what is, in fact, a very attractive, very dynamic, rapidly growing cash machine. Its own region.

Now far be it from me to suggest any kind of magic bullet to Save Downtown. But I've got a hunch that if people who want to develop downtown start taking a good, hard look at the factors that make the Spokane area attractive for new residents - factors that make them move to our town rather than a bigger or trendier city - and trying to implement them near the urban core, they could come up with interesting and innovative results.

Copying project ideas that are being used in bigger and trendier cities, on the other hand, is probably not going to get Spokane very far.

(And I hope to God that that generic white Vox thingamabob is not going to dominate the Spokane skyline next time I see it.)

MK

Dazzeetrader: "35 years ago, Denver and Sacramento were much the same as SPokane in both size and population."

1970 Metro Populations:
Denver: 1,000,000
Sacramento: 631,498
Spokane: 287,487

Nice try though.

sustainable

Dazzee - I appreciate your comments on here and are happy that you moved over from Skyscraperpage. Unfortunately though I think that your comments are more speculation than fact. I will try - gently - to correct a few things:

The Vox was not killed by City Hall and Kendall Yards has had the red carpet rolled out for it by the city.

Kendall Yards is not starting slowly because of City Hall, but because they have huge infrastructure and cleanup issues that had to be dealt with before building could start. Also, from reading the news and talking with local banks and builders (which is my profession) it sounds like they are still looking for a new investor since one dropped out of which I hope they find one soon. The city of Spokane could not do more to help the project, considering the TIF, open door to the mayor's office, etc.

Regarding the Vox Tower - you mentioned that the thing that didn't happen was that the jobs didn't materialize for people to afford to live there. A lot of the apartments were going to be in the $900 range - I think that people here in Spokane can afford that.

Dazzeetrader

I stand corrected MK..about the population part. Size in terms of city proper weren't so different. I've lived in both places. I should have stressed that the opportunities for growt in each city was about the same.....indisputable unless you WANT to believe the local kool-aid servers.

But back to the topic at hand, VOX didn't happen and if you ask Brewster ( I just know what he said and written) claims it was the delays. WHen I was in SPokane, I met a few people at City Hall. Even the Council members ( I talked to 3 and they're still there) thought the CIty had terrible underserved the Kendall Yards project in terms of time delays. Why? because the City isn't prepared for growth PLUS permitting delays were onerous. SO why isn't the CIty prepared for growth and some to expediate a project like Kendall yards? Because of the structure in the City. It's not for lack of money on the Chesrown side of the equation. He loses investors because the City drags on and on and on. Those investors need a return on investment. Think the Staubach group left because they used to such delays and want to keep their money tied up in Spokane? With no end in sight for the delays? How many years should they wait?
So why is it so hard to develop a building or a large project in Spokane? "It's the economy stupid!" to lift a line from a former adviser. And unless that changes, this lovely town won't become a city. As I reviewed the history of growth in Spokane, I'm beginning to think only a few flourish (and you know by now who that group is). Oh and MK, let's not do the "nice try" thing.....it's quite obvious who owns the place. Anyway, who grows and who doesn't? How is it controlled? City Hall is just a management group with rules and regs. Outside of housing developments, it's simply not prepared to assist major growth.
Why not? I don't know but look around you. Who's grown and who hasn't? There is your answer.

So yes, RenCorp is developing those areas (the not so prime ones) and they are to be praised for doing that. This thread has grown more than most. And there's a reason. And it's the future. We can't change the past but it might be mitigated. Unless the fundamental structure that encourages and allows growth for only a few is altered, expect more of the same. Done. Best wishes. PS why did the skyscraper/real estate site dry up? Seems like it was doing well and then nothing. Dazzee

Dazzeetrader

MK...you qouted the COunty populations NOT the city populations of Denver and Sacratomato ( as the locals call it). I'm sure it was an innocent mistake on your part. Now to the data:http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0027/tab20.txt

As you can see, Sacramento had only 70K more people in 1970 Denver was under half of what you quoted. Both cities had twice the land of Spokane. In 1960, the differences narrowed. Looks like the growth in Spokane was pretty stagnant and only changes if the borders of the City were changed...which is what happened.

And continues to happen. Facts are these: unless we change the way the City works (not me but you guys)The Sabeys, Chesrowns, Brewster types, etc..just won't be available to set forth new directions and growth schedules.

They leave for "friendlier" places and they won't be back. "Victory" some might call it. "Moribund" is what it really is in my opinion. Best wishes to all of you. It's a great town. Develop it and make it friendly to everyone. Grow it! Make it spectacular! Good luck! Dazzee

Jim

Why not keep this topic going? I'm not sure that blame can be placed on some vague city hall clic or long time cronies that really run the show. Kendall Yards did take forever and yes there was fear of the TIF, but alas the council came around and prep work has begun. I didn't know about the project losing an investor. Will things go on hold now? Hopefully not, after all that has occured to date. That plus the tight financing climate that we are in may be sad news indeed. I just don't think there have been nor are enough market driven forces around here to merit large scale, tasteful urban projects. I actually see much more energy visible in Boise and Tri Cities. Have you seen some of the many new developments on the Columbia River in Richland lately for example? I still fear we'll have to drive to either of these two formentioned cities when Nords finally pulls the plug here for quality shopping. Now Bozeman, that' just too far to drive...

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