Downtown Spokane has been experiencing a revitalization over the past decade, with new businesses, restaurants, and housing developments popping up in new and underdeveloped areas. One of the most exciting new developments is located at the confluence of downtown Spokane and the city’s University District.
The Warren, a brand-new residential building located at the corner of Browne and Riverside, is a six-story, 139-unit multifamily project building that was developed, in partnership, by Portland-based firm Edlen & Company and Boise-based deChase Miksis.
The firm was attracted to Spokane’s walkability, the sense of community among the people who live there, and the city’s organic and dynamic growth potential. The downtown area, in particular, appealed to the developers because of its historic buildings and unique character.
While the development team specializes in a wide range of developments, including historic preservation and adaptive reuse projects, they ultimately decided to build The Warren from the ground up. “We really saw that we could build something there that would hopefully be a compliment to the neighborhood and really connect in with the fabric of East Spokane,” says Edlen & Company Co-founder, Matt Edlen.
The site, a former parking lot and bank drive-through, was well-suited for a new construction project, and the developers saw an opportunity to create a new building that would fit seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood. “The team that we brought together was a mix of local and regional designers, we spent a lot of time just listening,” tells Edlen. “We’ve really tried to encapsulate elements of the community that exist today, while also providing a window into what could be next for the city.” The Warren features a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. The building also includes ground-floor retail space, a community courtyard, and plenty of artistic character.
The team engaged with Spokane firms The Woodshop ad agency, and artist collaborative, Terrain, to weave elements of local artists into the fabric of the design. “Throughout the building – on the elevator vestibules, in small spaces – go around the corner and you see these pull quotes from literary pieces,” says Edlen. “I’ve explored a lot of different mediums, but I’ve never really explored literature in a building. Where people learn about the author and read stories about the place that they’re in today. We really want to connect people to this larger sense of the story of Spokane.”
Downtown Spokane’s housing growth has primarily come in the form of redevelopment. The Warren is one of only a few new ground-up residential buildings to be constructed in the last decade. The project was met with excitement and anticipation from both residents and city officials, who saw it as a positive sign of Spokane’s continued growth and development. “Between the city, the University District, and others, there is clearly an ecosystem that helped aspects of this project become a reality,” remarks Edlen. “I would say the bigger thing was the commitment by those groups in earnest to want to participate with us.”
Edlen says that of the 139 units, only about 20 remain unoccupied as they move into peak leasing season. “We’ve got a fabulous team that has been working around the clock,” says Edlen. “There’s just been such an incredible amount of demand for the building. There’s been, interestingly, a lot of local demand, which is great. I would say it’s been far better than we ever anticipated.”
The accessibility of The Warren to both downtown amenities and the University District has played a part of the demand, Edlen says. “Of course, you have Spokane at your fingertips, and you have one of the most incredible parks I’ve ever been to, one of the most vibrant communities on the planet, and it’s right at your doorstep.”
The Warren is just one example of the exciting changes that are taking place in downtown Spokane, and a testament to the power of collaborative spirit. “I’ve said this so many times to the Mayor and to the city staff, it was one of the most collaborative projects I’ve ever experienced with a municipality,” says Edlen. “Quantifying how much that participation or that collaboration would impact the project in such positive ways going into the project is almost impossible.”
This piece was featured in the Downtown Spokane Partnership’s 2023 Annual Report. To read the full report, click below.