Kendall Yards goes high-design in 2016 planning and construction projects

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Kendall Yards is going modern in its attempt to woo more retailers and restaurants to its commercial district. The Bluff Building, shown here from the Centennial Trail, will offer a permanent indoor space for the Night Market. (PHOTO: Spokane Planning)

Kendall Yards continues to grow in its quest to woo more retailers and restaurants to its burgeoning commercial district, and more residents to its growing array of townhomes, condos, and apartments. Three major buildings will continue or commence construction this year, further enhancing the new urbanist oasis. Unfortunately, none of the three buildings will offer a strong mixed retail/residential component, but as the district continues to develop, we anticipate more of those types of projects to come on line.

Read on for more on the projects anticipated in Kendall Yards for 2016.

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Logan District blossoms as stage set for Matilda Building, a 57-unit mixed use project

The Matilda Building will rise on the Hamilton Corridor in the Logan District, with 57 apartment units and first-floor retail. Urban design abound. (PHOTO: Spokane Permits)

The Matilda Building will rise on the Hamilton Corridor in the Logan District, with 57 apartment units and first-floor retail. Urban design abound. (PHOTO: Spokane Permits)

In May, we reported on a major new mixed-use project set for construction on North Hamilton in the burgeoning Logan District. At that point, the “Hamilton Project” had just applied for a SEPA Review, the penultimate step in the process toward a building permit. Now, we understand, the project is just about ready to get underway.

The four-story mixed-use structure at 1008 N Hamilton will offer 57 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments aimed at young urban professionals, graduate students, and others interested in a University District living experience. A rooftop patio and barbecue will add to the available amenities. On the ground floor, over 17,000 square feet of retail space will be made available. One commercial unit has reportedly already been leased. Unfortunately, an excessively generous street setback may result in a more limited “urban”-style experience where people choose to access the storefronts via the parking lot, which will be located behind the building. Hopefully this grassy setback can be reduced to encourage people to commute to and from the Matilda Building by foot, bike, or transit.

Otherwise, we’re quite excited to see this project get underway, and we can’t help but notice the tremendous investment seen in the Logan District in recent years. If these projects succeed in urban form and character, there’s a potential for major disruption. There was Six on Hamilton. The Clementine Building. Gonzaga’s Boone Avenue Retail Center, or BARC. The John J. Hemmingson Center. And of course, the Hamilton Corridor Form-Based Code.

Are we witnessing the rebirth of Logan?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Are you excited for the construction of the Matilda Building, a major new mixed-use project on the Hamilton Corridor? Do you believe that this building, combined with other recent successes, will help herald a rebirth of the Logan District? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you!

Mobile Murals site at 3rd and Division apparently set for pseudo-strip mall

The proposed development at 3rd and Division eschews any attempt at an "urban form," instead falling back on more suburban-style amenities and features, such as 46 parking spaces. (PHOTO: Spokane Planning's Citizen Access System)

The Santillanes’ proposed development at 3rd and Division eschews any attempt at an “urban form,” instead falling back on more suburban-style amenities and features, such as 46 parking spaces. (PHOTO: Spokane Planning’s Citizen Access System)

First, the good news: it appears that the Mobile Murals won’t need to be around 3rd and Division for much longer, as a local developer plans to break ground on a new project there. Now, the bad news: said project will eschew any semblance of urban form in favor of a more suburban, strip mall-esque design.

Recall that local hoteliers Rita and John Santillanes, planning to build a Best Western Peppertree, purchased the lot in 2008 and moved quickly to demolish the existing Lutheran church that was on the premises. Funding fell through late in the year when Bank of Whitman collapsed. It never returned. Last year, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, City of Spokane, and Spokane Arts partnered, and along with other community groups like Spokane Rising, built temporary murals to create a more vibrant and exciting gateway to downtown than the rebar and concrete that had plagued the site for the preceding six years.

Now, Santillanes says she’s ready to restart development at the site. It won’t be a hotel; the nearly-complete Davenport Grand scuttled those plans. Instead, the two have planned a $2 million two-story mixed office/retail building, which will become the home of operations for their four Best Western Peppertree Inns. Office space will occupy the second floor, while Brooke Baker, of the presumed contractor, Baker Construction, hopes to find a fast casual restaurant (a la Chipotle) to occupy one of the several ground-floor retail slots. Great news, right? After all, now the lot won’t be filled with ugly urban decay and the Mobile Murals can move on to another unsightly empty lot.

Wrong. See the above tentative site plan from the Pre-Development Conference hosted with the City of Spokane’s Planning & Development Services Department. Note that the building is set back from the corner at 3rd and Division, features an obscene 46 parking stalls, includes a drive-through window, and includes few if any urban design elements. Now, we have not yet seen renderings, but as it stands, the design is “standard” in every sense of the term. Moreover, it conflicts with the principles set forth in the Division Street Gateway project, which seeks to improve pedestrian access/safety and beautify Spokane’s most important intersection. We can’t help but feel that this project flies in the face of those goals.

Luckily, there’s a simple fix. All Santillanes must do to improve the building, create a better pedestrian experience, and ensure that downtown Spokane does not become an extension of East Sprague or North Division, is construct this building to the corner, with parking in the rear. It’s a simple fix, but it’s one that would work, and it’s one that would make a difference for times to come in visitors’ first impressions of Spokane. Construction is anticipated to begin in May. Can we make a difference? Shout loud and clear to your nearest City Councilperson (click on the name of yours for contact information) that you think downtown Spokane deserves better. Contact the Planning Department directly. Or, better yet, the developers, Rita and John Santillanes. We can build a better downtown. The first step? Refusal to accept continued mediocrity.

Mobile Murals Project goes live with a public Call for Submissions

The empty lot at Third and Division will see a lot fewer weeds and a lot more art with the public call for artists’ mural submissions released by Spokane Arts today. (PHOTO: Google Street View)

In February, during our Launch Week, we suggested that in order to improve the public image of our city at a major gateway, enhance opportunities for artistic expression, and finally do something about a significant nagging problem, the local community should rally behind the creation of a public mural at Third and Division.

What we didn’t realize then was that numerous individuals were already working on a similar idea.

In mid-July, the post went viral. Spurred by posts, shares, and other activity on social media, it gained steam. Around the same time, representatives from Spokane Arts, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, and the City of Spokane had begun formal planning meetings to make the concept happen. The idea was popping up independently in different places because it struck a nerve: why couldn’t our most important entry point be something other than an ugly pit? In time, Councilman Mike Allen committed funds to the project, and it began to look like it was coming together.

And here we are today: launch day. Today, Spokane Arts released its official call for submissions to the aptly-named Mobile Murals Project. The program will clean up vacant lots and construction sites around the city, starting with Third and Division. The first round of submissions will close August 25, with selection by August 29 and installation in early October. We encourage all interested artists to submit proposals. Because it’s our city. Let’s build it up.

Urban village to rise on Spokane’s South Hill?

Will the next Kendall Yards be located near Southeast Boulevard and 29th on Spokane's South Hill? The developers of Quail Run seem to hope so. Honestly, doesn't this look like Central Food at the Nest in Kendall Yards? (PHOTO: Quail Run Spokane)

Will the next Kendall Yards be located near Southeast Boulevard and 29th on Spokane’s South Hill? The developers of Quail Run seem to hope so. Honestly, doesn’t this restaurant look like a new Flying Goat or Central Food? (PHOTO: Quail Run Spokane)

Matthew Byrd of Cornerstone Property Advisors is marketing an urban village at Quail Run on Spokane’s South Hill. Early site clearing has gotten underway on the property, located near the intersection of 29th Avenue and Southeast Boulevard, and vertical construction could be in progress within a few weeks.

But as with all Spokane projects, it seems, this one has positive and negative aspects. Luckily, under all three scenarios, the majority of the new construction would be fronting a new “main street.” A water feature is envisioned in two of the three ideas. But one proposal in particular features a large anchor store and more extensive parking. And no specifics are given on whether any of the projects would be mixed-use, with residential features. For full project proposals, see the Quail Run website here.

Hopefully the developers will construct a mixed-use urban village fitting of the next great American city. A project that will enhance quality of life and reap positive benefits not just for buyers of the development, but for neighbors as well. Residential in particular should be a critical component of any successful project. Time will tell, as construction is set to get underway soon.

Ruby Suites rises in place of former Burgan’s Block

The redevelopment of the Burgan's Block may be less grandiose than the original proposal for the site, but it's still a really attractive project. (PHOTO: Ruby Suites)

The redevelopment of the Burgan’s Block may be less grandiose than the original proposal for the site, but it’s still a really attractive project. (PHOTO: Ruby Suites)

Construction is deep underway and should be nearing completion soon at the former Burgan’s Block site on the North Bank in the Division/Ruby corridor. Originally, the Burgan’s Furniture building and associated warehouses were set to be demolished and a five-story major hotel built in their place. That $10- to $20-million plan called for 90-100 suites and an adjacent events center complex with retail shops, restaurants, and even a rooftop garden.

Instead, developer Jerry Dicker has crafted a more conservative approach, gutting the former Burgan’s Furniture buildings down to the walls and essentially starting over. The project, called Ruby Suites, will offer a 46 extended-stay hotel units, a fitness center, clubhouse, and three retail suites on the ground floor. It should make for an exciting project, although we can’t help but lament the absurd 136 parking spaces planned for the Ruby side of the block. Hopefully in the future, the site can be built out with underground or structured parking and even more residential units.

One can dream.

What do you think? Are you excited about the redevelopment of the Burgan’s Block? Would you stay there if you needed an extended-stay residential option? Would you open a business there? And what of this continued revival of the North Bank/Division corridor as a major retail-residential node? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you.

KXLY makes a major last-sentence announcement: 150 downtown units

Prium Companies’ 153 S Wall development, proposed in 2006, originally contained 96 units. KXLY is reporting that a Spokane developer has plans for a 90-unit development somewhere downtown. But where? (PHOTO: Prium Companies)

Spokane local news has a history of making off-the-cuff announcements without much substantiation or explanation. However, we were still pretty surprised to hear their latest scoop: 150 housing units downtown. In their latest story about downtown development, they dropped this bombshell:

We’ve also received word construction will begin next month on a 60-unit apartment complex set between the University District and downtown. A different 90-unit complex is expected to be built downtown starting in January 2015.

Who’ll be building these units? And where? How? When? Who’s the contractor? The architect? KXLY’s story leaves us with little new information.

We think we’ve nailed down the 60-unit complex “between the University District and downtown,” and though their story makes it seem like a project for the East End/West Main area, all indications are that it will be located on Ruby (near Chipotle). But we’ll bring you more on that tomorrow.

The big news is the 90-unit development set “to be built downtown starting in January 2015.” Who are KXLY’s sources? What are they hearing? It could be anywhere, but considering the scale of some of the most recent major downtown apartment proposals, it could be as significant as 153 S Wall, a major downtown development by Prium Companies which was scuttled during the financial crisis but which originally sought to build 96 units. Time will tell, and we’ll keep you posted.

What do you think? Are you excited for the addition of 150 units to the downtown or North Bank areas? Do you have any more information on either the 60-unit or the 90-unit projects set to start construction soon? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person. We love to hear from you.