What could help the Garland District become more vibrant, like South Perry?

Spokane’s Garland District has a second-run movie theater, specialty retail shops and services, iconic buildings like the Milk Bottle, and popular and exciting events like the Garland Block Party. So why does it always play second-fiddle to South Perry?

The South Perry District on Spokane’s South Hill has become a vibrant, exciting neighborhood since the 1990s, with hip restaurants and trendy, eclectic retailers, and further expansion incoming. It’s become a sort of model for other areas of town, a brilliant success story of a district’s revitalization. The Spokesman-Review thinks that the Thursday Market played a big role, and I’m inclined to agree.

But what does that mean for our other major neighborhoods? The Spokesman article and a suggestion from Facebook fan Caleb Ingersoll made me start wondering: what could help the Garland District reach the same level of vibrancy, excitement, and virality? They already have a Street Fair, a Block Party that sounds like something that belongs in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and a second-run movie theatre. They also have the really cool and historic Milk Bottle, a sort of Spokane landmark. On paper, Garland should be blowing South Perry out of the water. But that’s not happening. Garland always seems to play second-fiddle to South Perry.


I want to know what you think. Post your comments below in our comments section or on Facebook. Is it the lack of a destination Farmers’ Market? Do they need more hip restaurants and retailers? Streetscape improvements? Residential units? Let me know what you think.


10 thoughts on “What could help the Garland District become more vibrant, like South Perry?

  1. I’ve thought about this quite a bit since I live in the Garland area. We also have the hippest barber shop in town up here, Porters. I think Garland has come a long way since Bon Bon and the restoration of the movie theater. I really think it’s food. The Milk Bottle has it’s charm but the area needs a great unique sit down restaurant. Also, I would love to see a decent coffee shop and a pizza place. The Rocket is… well, what it is. I saw some plans for a possible mixed use retail/apartment building going in. More development like that could bring more young blood to the area. my 2 cents.

  2. It’s funny that this has come up because I’ve thought about it quite a bit, too. We lived in South Perry for 5 years as the Renaissance was really just starting, moved North for a couple and missed the neighborhood. So, we just moved back and bought a home in South Perry. Living in a walkable neighborhood was really important to us and we considered Garland for a moment, but you’re right it’s just not the same. I agree that it is probably the lack of decent restaurants that are open later (South perry has SP pizza, Casper Fry, and The Lantern). I also think the Farmer’s Market lends a real pizzaz and sense of community to the neighborhood.

    And in our case, Garland had a lack of desirable housing. We found most of the houses to be too small for our family of 5 and a lot of the residential area lacking character and not well maintained. I think Garland is in a bit of a catch 22 in that way because people aren’t going to want to come in and fix things up, if it’s not a “happening” spot, but it won’t be able to become more vibrant without people coming in and fixing things up.

  3. I’ve lived in South Perry almost ten years; long enough to have seen a lot of the changes. The specific mix of new businesses (and hard work of the entrepreneurs), the neighboring demographics (south hill), a lot of factors have coalesced to make it work. But the big difference is what SP doesn’t have. It’s just really small, which gives it a kind of focus, and immediately adjacent to the residential area in a way Garland doesn’t strike me as being. It’s a lot of signal and not much noise. The people who live within walking distance are very supportive, I think, and make a sustainable day-to-day customer base to build on. Garland is great but the geography isn’t the same. It might not make sense to get too wrapped up in what is working on Perry.

    Nice blog.

  4. I think Garland is a “destination” where people go to see a movie/Milk Bottle and then leave to go home, whereas there’s more of a residential presence in S. Perry.

  5. I think that Garland should adapt a roof similar to Freemont Street in Vegas 😉 It’s great to hear about districts and zones taking shape around Spokane. P.S. what is up with the LED large billboards all around here in Phoenix advertising/recruiting joining the Spokane Sheriff Department? That was a strange sight to see.

  6. Does it have anything to do with traffic levels? As an arterial, Garland will have a tough time slowing the area down enough to make it walkable. I am a firm believer that some portion of the “small & quint” feel of Perry comes from the slow speed limit, bump outs on pedestrian walkways and overall low volume of vehicle traffic. Both the Garland district and the upcoming Sprague Targeted Investment projects come with big traffic load problems that must be addressed to allow the districts to form a true nucleus.

  7. Restore the STA Garland bus route.
    A nice sit-down restaurant that serves wine, beer and mixed drinks.
    How many downscale bars can a few blocks support without affecting the streetscape?
    Seek out a couple of upscale events to supplement the present line-up.
    Crime. What to do? I dunno. Garland District seems to have a lot of it.
    Review the complex traffic routes on the side streets. Maybe there’s a better way…
    Line the storefronts with flower pots like the ones the Garland Theater puts out in spring.

  8. I just stumbled across this blog. Interesting. I am on the Garland Business District board. Most of us would like to see improvements and changes. But it is very expensive and will take a large interested and invested group to make the changes that we all would like to see. We are made up of a number of businesses that are owned by other property owners. I would like to see us come together as property owners, business owners and neighbors (and other interested individuals) to work on a streetscape design for the Garland District. There was actually a plan created about 20 years ago. But it got lost in the shuffle.

    So, for those of you who are interested.. lets talk. Let’s put our heads together and start working on this,
    We are currently applying for a greening grant to add perennials around the trees and bring in some color We are hoping to get a mural painted on one of the buildings and some other greening projects.

    But what we need is to get everyone on board to create a plan to turn Garland around. Most importantly we need to find a way to get the property owners who rent their spaces to come on board with us. When they rent to any business just to get a paycheck it hurts all of us. We now have two more thrift shops coming into the district, With these kind of offerings, good restaurants and businesses are not going to want to invest in the Garland District,

    So if you have a passion for seeing things change in Garland… join is… bring us your ideas and be willing to put some time and energy into the project. That’s how we can make this happen,

    Julie Shepard-Hall

  9. I just wanted to follow up on this blog and let you know that we are starting to work on a game plan for revitalizing Garland. So many of us love the uniqueness of Garland. If you want to be a part of the ideas and fundraising. reach out to us.

  10. The Garland Business District has been working for the past several months with Stantec and Y.E.S. – You Express Studios to develop plans for revitalizing the Garland District. Yes..it won’t happen overnight but we need to keep the momentum going. On October 16th we will be having our Friends of Garland Party and Fundraiser. Along with great music by Karrie O’Neill, appetizers and beverages, we will be revealing plans for the Garland District. Those at the event will be the first to comment on our plans. Afterwards they will be available for viewing at The Garland Theater for a couple of weeks.

    We need to raise funding in order to keep our plans going. We are just in the beginning stages. So, buy a ticket or two, come bid on some great auction items and help us work on creating the District that you want to visit.

    Tickets can be purchased at http://friendsofthegarlanddistrict.bpt.me

    Thank you!
    Julie Shepard-Hall
    Garland Business District


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