This 1,500-unit suburban apartment complex would hollow out Spokane’s urban core

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This 1,485-unit apartment complex, seen here in a conceptual site plan, has been proposed by developer Harley Douglas for the North Indian Trail neighborhood. It should be opposed at all costs. (PHOTO: Spokane Planning)

Every so often, a developer proposes an amendment to the Spokane Comprehensive Plan. It’s an involved process which involves agency review and comment, SEPA review, public comment, Plan Commission hearings, and City Council briefings. It can take as long as a year. And it’s designed to be difficult. The Comprehensive Plan serves as the roadmap for the future development of Spokane, so it’s not meant to be easily bendable to the whims of developers or special interests. It’s meant to guide development in a manageable way that serves social, economic, and environmental interests.

In North Indian Trail, a developer (Morningside Investments, LLC and Harley Douglass) has proposed one such Comprehensive Plan revision. The action would allow a suburban apartment complex of 742-1,485 units in the area of Windhaven Lane in what’s now a ghost subdivision. Neighborhood representatives and advocates are concerned about impacts on crime, traffic, and quality of life. But there’s a much bigger concern that threatens our entire city, and could alter our development patterns for years to come.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the Spokane-Spokane Valley area will see demand in the next three years of just 2,900 rental units. That means that half of the entire region’s housing demand will be met by this complex. In other words, less demand for units downtown, in Kendall Yards, on North Monroe, in the Garland District, in the South University District, and on East Sprague. Less demand for units where they are so desperately needed to improve urban vitality, quality of life, and in the case of downtown, pedestrian activation. A hollowing out of our urban core.

This development, and its associated Comprehensive Plan amendment, must be opposed at all costs. Fortunately, there’s still some time in the public process, and it’s expected to be contentious. But an influx of public comment, including from readers of this blog, could sway the process in our favor and in the favor of a strong urban core. Here’s how to make an official public comment on the proposal.

Written comments should be mailed, delivered, or emailed to:

Planning & Development Services
ATTN: Tirrell Black, Assistant Planner
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd
Spokane, WA 99201-3329

Written comments might mention the traffic impacts, the quality of life impacts–whatever you want. But most importantly, these comments should mention that the future of Spokane lies in a strong urban core. It lies in investing in brownfield developments like Kendall Yards and those in the South University District. The future lies in mixed-use developments where people walk, bike, and use transit. Not in massive suburban apartment complexes. It’s time to move forward in that vision.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Do you approve of this Comprehensive Plan amendment, and do you think that it would risk hollowing out our urban core? What could be done to improve the land use amendment process to ensure that only the best projects get approved? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, and on Twitter. We love to hear from you!


39 thoughts on “This 1,500-unit suburban apartment complex would hollow out Spokane’s urban core

  1. I saw this the other day on Inland Northwest Business Watch. This apartment complex CAN NOT HAPPEN. Like you said, it would pull Spokane into the dead urban blight that defined Spokane from 1960-1995. I can’t comprehend how investors/developers think developments like this would be at all good for the community. Why is it that so many of the people with money don’t care at all about the vitality of the community? They might be able to make a few bucks now, but they destroy the local economy in the process.

  2. It is insane to believe this development is in the best interests of the current and future residents of this area. The infrastructure, even with modifications, will not allow efficient and reasonable traffic flow. Indian Trail Road has severe issues now, even as it carries the nomal traffic.
    This development will severely reduce the “livibility” factor in this area and should not be allowed to be developed as requested. We, as residents, have worked too hard to live in this beautiful area.

  3. Thanks Chris! I live near this currently abandoned housing development. We are getting a new set of apartments(approx 100) as we speak on Indian Trail Rd and the last thing we need is another 1,000 apartments! I’m very concerned; I appreciate the opportunity to contact someone with my concerns. I have taken down Tirrell Black’s information so that I may contact him with my concerns. I hope that others will as well.

  4. Thank you for bringing to light yet another consequence of this rezoning that many may not have thought of. There really is just no good that will come from building those apartment units in the Indian trail community.
    The best use for that land is exactly what it is zoned for, single family homes.
    This entire rezoning proposal is full of problems, from the impact on an already seriously overburdened infrastructure to the ridiculous contradictions in the application itself. (Seriously, read it…it’s laughable)
    Everyone is painfully aware that money is the driving force here and that the developers and city have adopted an “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission ” position when it comes to development in our communities, but I do believe that the tax paying citizens have a voice, and a sound platform to stand on in opposition to this proposal.
    There are neighborhood council meetings happening next month and I encourage you to send a representative to voice the concerns regarding the impact of this rezoning on the core of our city. This isn’t just an Indian trail problem…

  5. Allowing any more apartments to be built in the Indian trail area would have a very negative impact on the area. Major traffic congestion, devaluation of single homes already here, increased crime to name a few.
    No one with any intelligence can think that this would be a good idea.

  6. The Apartment Complex should not be built in this neighborhood of family homes. The area can not fulfil the needs of so many new people moving to it all at once. Traffic, crime, schools – would overwhelm the neighborhoods!
    The complex being built on Barnes Road between the Library & Church should have never been given permission to build – and at three stories! Does not fit the decor of the area & will put a strain on the area as well!

  7. Allowing any more apartments to be built in the Indian trail area would have a very negative impact on the area. Major traffic congestion, devaluation of single homes already here, increased crime to tname a few.
    No one with any intelligence can think that this would be a good idea.

  8. If anyone is in doubt about this development, please drive down Farmdale and look where this other development ruins at least five homes views and values. Never have seen so many windows, etc. facing the backyards of our Indian Trail neighbors. What a shame! I would be beside myself if I bought a house in that area! I believe we need to stand tall together and stop this type of development from ever getting started.

  9. Yes this is a bad idea. The map above is only part of the proposed changes. The other area being considered for a zoning change is on the east side of Indian Trail on Strong Rd. Here is a link to a story and maps from KREM 2. A development like this would have a negative impact on every home in the area and adversely affect property values. Huge developments like this have no place in the middle of single family homes. I don’t see a lot of homes being built around the huge complexes on N. Nevada. No one want these in their neighborhood. I’m not against development if it is done responsible. I also see and hear the proposed property referred to as abandon residential property. That’s not true. It make the property sound useless and worthless. If that’s the case I would be happy to take it off the developers hands and begins building homes. Just because the developer chooses not to build homes doen’t mean it’s abandoned.

  10. I live in this area and I can’t believe it’s being considered. The same developer (I think it’s the same developer?) wants to also put in duplexes in the undeveloped area around the water tower on the east side of Indian Trail in the same area.

    Of course I’m concerned for my property value, etc. But this piece opened my eyes to another view I hadn’t even considered. Thank you.

    The worst part of all of this is the driving. My kids play in the street/cross the street of what SHOULD be a safe neighborhood. All up and down our street (James Dr) there are basketball hoops, etc. Now drivers go flying down our road like it is their personal freeway to try and avoid Indian Trail traffic and save themselves 30 seconds… someone is going to get killed. Farmdale has been feeling it for years since they are a block closer to Indian Trail, and now they get to look in the windows of the new apartments near the church. Ugh.

    We are considering moving to an area where we don’t have to worry about apartments going up next door. Others will follow and what will happen is that this area of Indian Trail will soon look like other areas of town which is full of rentals and apartments. If that’s what city planners want, okay. But I think it’s ignorant and irresponsible, especially for the many people who have made this their home/neighborhood for many, many years.

    • The issue is not the density, but the location of said density. Smart growth should be focused inside the city, in neighborhood districts and downtown. Not on the urban fringe somewhere like Indian Trail. Many of these comments are NIMBYs, but I can assure you that that was not my intention. (If it were, this post would have touched on their pet issues, like property values, crime, and traffic.)

      We have half a dozen urban districts that still need significant revitalization and new infill/density. Garland. North Monroe. East Sprague. Browne’s Addition. Northwest. The last thing we should be doing is building out half of our expected rental unit demand for the next three years on the suburban fringe.

    • The development is just creating a new urban area, which again is what Smart Growth is all about. Although I do wonder where people like you get off thinking that you have really any right to tell anyone what they can and cant do with their property. The statements “need significant revitalization and new infill/density” or “Smart growth should be focused inside the city, in neighborhood districts and downtown” really strikes me as an empirically unfounded comment made by someone with a narcissistic god complex. Most of the problem with Spokane stems from lack of economic opportunity and not the need for some Utopian planner type to try and make work for themselves. Rather than fixate on someone doing things contrary to your tastes and self rationalizations how about you do something more useful with you time like pick up trash next to the road.

      • Mister or Miss G, or whoever you are, have you not read all the other concerns about this? Maybe YOU have something to gain from all this. As for the rest of us we’d be glad to pick up the trash on the side of the road because we care about our neighborhood and the city of Spokane..

  11. Before this is even considered, is there anyone looking into the access to and from Indian Trail from Francis Ave? It’s terrible in the morning and evening rush hours. I live up in this area, the developers only view on the horizon is $$$$$, why do we allow this? This should be converted into something where there’s mixed housing, limiting the number of apartments . .. What about access to emergency services? Do folks remember the windstorms and fires in this area???? If folks need help, which route will allow them to help folks the quickest? Let’s think this through. We can do better!

  12. Projections mean nothing and funneling development to downtown only serves a few rich downtown land holders. 50 years from now the town will double in size and this area will probably have plenty of apartment complexes.

  13. Really?! ANOTHER Douglas mega property? I guess as long they get to make more money who cares if it is damaging to north Spokane residents right?

  14. Wouldn’t the City want to build Multi-family homes that allow for easily access to job rich areas of Spokane ? … What about the University district Downtown , or near Spokane Falls Community College ? … The people that will look to rentals as their housing source , need to be closer to the urban core….The proposed area makes absolutely no sense.. The traffic revisions that will be ESSENTIAL if this zoning change is granted will cost the City millions of dollars..
    We as citizens need to make sure there are no “kickbacks” to city planners from Morningside Investments, LLC and Harley Douglass … We all know these sort of shady business practices occur…

    • YES!!! I heard at the community meeting a couple weeks back that they are doing a traffic survey, hired by the developer. We’ll see what findings are presented to us. The plan to extend Barnes Rd up over Five Mile will be great for the few that work up north… But the majority will still be using Indian Trail Rd to get to Francis for our (very busy, slow, congested) morning commutes.

    • Not only that, but funneling traffic over Barnes onto 5mile just moves the problem. NONE of the roads on 5 mile are more than one lane each way. They are already overcrowded.

  15. Traffic on Indian Trail is already unbelievable. You can hardly get out of a side street onto Indian Trail since the original complex was built and occupied. There are not enough schools in that area to handle the extra children that will be moving into theses apartments. Plus the rent will be so extreme that many people will not be able to afford them. This is a very, very bad idea.

  16. I live near two of their complexes as soon as they went in we saw vandalism and theft sky rocket. Not to mention increase in traffic and speeding cars. There have been drug deals on the corner next to my house. They amount to as one neighbor said “instant slums”.

  17. Forgive me but 100% of the comments on this blog appear to focus on the proposed Douglas property zoning change. There is SECOND zoning change before the Commission, Z1500087COMP, the property owners/developers appear to be trying to “sneak through” while everyone is focused on opposing the proposed Douglas apartment complex.

    Proposal Z1500087COMP would have an equally negative impact on North Indian Trail Neighborhood by increasing the developer’s property residency density from 104 units to 520 units. The deadline for comment on this second proposal is close at hand; February 8th. Please make your opposition known to the Spokane Plan Commission related to Z1500087CPOM for all the same reasons given in opposing the proposed Douglas property change.

  18. “proposes an amendment to the Spokane Comprehensive Plan” These are the words that need your attention. This needs to be taken to the County Commish’s meetings. A change to the Comp Plan takes citizen intervention!!!Speak out at the meetings.

  19. As a resident that moved into the area 4 years ago, I have to say that I oppose the rezoning of either sites. We moved into our house in December and were told that the school our kids were zoned for was full so we would have to continue to drive our kids out to Michael Anderson Elementary on Fairchild AFB until a spot possibly opened up the next school year. Where are all of the kids going to go from these new proposed developments?? Not to mentioned what the new developments will cause as added strain to our roads that aren’t maintained at a standard for current traffic. Take a drive down Indian Trail and count the potholes that you have to avoid on a daily basis. Has there been any significant thought to the utility infrastructure that would be taxed by such an influx of structures? As an outsider who moved to Spokane, I can absolutely agree that there are other areas of Spokane that are desperately in need of revitalization. Then there are the selfish reasons for my opposition, amount of commute time, crime, property values, etc. We chose the Indian Trail area for the small community feel and safety that it provides. From the looks of other property built by the same developers, all I can say is “The Lusitano they are not”. Please make a wise decisions for the good of Spokane and deny the rezoning requests.

  20. The apartment complex built a few feet behind the church on Indian trail is one ugly eyesore. Is it legal to build so close to someone else’s property. Did the complex developers have permission? It’s unbelievable what Spokane is allowing to happen to this neighborhood. Last summer’s forest fires on Indian Trail could have caused a great deal of human tragedy. Traffic on our roads leading out of here would have trapped us. We would have no alternative way out of here except Indian Trail Road. Please don’t allow more apartment complexes in our area.


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