GSI, DSP push STA to postpone Plaza renovation

The renovation of downtown’s STA Plaza suffered a major setback Thursday that could spell danger for the transit provider’s entire operation. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Spokane, Incorporated and the Downtown Spokane Partnership on Thursday pushed the Spokane Transit Authority to postpone its planned renovation of the Plaza downtown. The two groups were concerned that the planned revamp, which would relocate passenger services to the first floor, add more retail spaces, create a larger indoor waiting area, and develop real-time bus arrival information, didn’t do enough to address the issue of loitering (read: waiting for buses).

Unfortunately, with the STA Plaza as vital as it is to the authority’s operation, this three-month postponement could spell doom for projects like the Central City Line and plans for a high-performance transit network in the Spokane region. Especially if a solution to the impasse isn’t found quickly. DSP and GSI oppose the planned reboot despite the relatively low cost of such a measure, as compared to realigning STA’s operations at an alternative facility. Moreover, the two groups have yet to present a compelling case that loitering (read: waiting for buses) has harmed downtown’s economic vitality, or that such a problem is unique to Spokane (have you ever seen the Transbay Transit Terminal in San Francisco? San Jose’s Diridon Station?). They have also failed to pony up the necessary dollars to move the facility, as they propose. Until such a case can be presented or such funding can be found, this can be chalked up to just another short-sighted attempt to hold Spokane back from making progress on improving vital services and infrastructure like transit. 

Urban cities have loiterers. They have panhandlers. They have homeless people. Spokane doesn’t have a “street kid” problem or a “loiterer” problem or a “homeless” problem. It has a “well-connected cynic” problem.

What do you think? Do you use the STA Plaza? How does it compare in your experience to transit terminals in other cities? Do you support the plaza renovation, which would create indoor waiting spaces and retail in attempt to further decrease loitering on the street? Should the Plaza cease to exist, perhaps in favor of a Portland-style transit mall? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, and on Twitter. We love to hear from you.

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2 thoughts on “GSI, DSP push STA to postpone Plaza renovation

  1. Although this problem appears to be from these business groups wanting to hide poverty and mental illness from themselves and clients, I think the solution will actually have nothing to do with these groups or any other “unappealing” people that are downtown. The problem with downtown cultural problem. (these are both major problems that should be addressed but not necessarily in this situation)

    The business groups have created a downtown that currently has no culture of ownership. It is where they want to come to work and then leave at night. Beyond that they want it to be a place that is “attractive” to the convention groups and tourists that come to town. This creates a culture where the downtown has no one truly invested in it beyond 9-5. You come to work and leave or come to visit and leave.

    If you want to fix this you need to make investments that will encourage people to view downtown and somewhere they want to live. There is a divide between boomers and millennials.This divide can been seen in where the groups want to live and what they find appealing in a neighborhood. I hear a lot of boomer voices and I don’t think they are trying to hurt the downtown or Spokane in general, but they genuinely can’t understand any of the appeal of a strong transit center and a life that is not dependent on cars.

    The goal should be to encourage housing development in the downtown core which would then create a sense of ownership and create an environment that would be attractive to work live and visit. Once this culture is created Spokane will not only be more attractive to newcomers but to businesses that want to be in a city that caters to the young professional crowd.

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