The Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP), on behalf of the Downtown Spokane Parking and Business Improvement District, is working with City Council Members and other local partners to secure and execute significant investment into the improvement and refurbishment of alleyways in downtown Spokane. By investing in infrastructure, street-surface upgrades, lighting, landscaping and more, improvements can be leveraged with private investment into these new public spaces. Creating a unique destination within downtown, these revitalized alleys will help to stimulate commerce at locally-owned restaurants and retailers, support hospitality and tourism, build safer streets, and aid in downtown’s economic recovery.
Lead by Mayor David Condon, the City of Spokane launched “Innovation Alleyways” in 2019 in an effort to revitalize dark and neglected alleyways adjacent to the elevated BNSF railroad. For the purpose of Downtown’s efforts, we are piloting areas closer-in, within walking distance of Riverfront Park and the densest areas of shopping and dining. By creating connection from Riverfront into commercial zones, park visitors will be encouraged to explore the greater downtown area and patronize businesses.
Also in 2019, Council Member Lori Kinnear allocated funding to improvements in the alleyway located just south of Main Ave between Wall Street and Howard Street. The project resulted in two new murals and an improved street surface. Planned continued improvements were interrupted in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alleyways were included as an important priority of the 2021 Downtown Plan Update.
PS2.3: ACTION: Rename and improve the alley between W Main Ave and W Riverside Ave to transform a neglected space into a distinctive pedestrian space. This alley renovation can be a model for other alleys Downtown.
Giving names to alleys is a low-cost action that is a prerequisite to placemaking. As shown in the graphic, ways to improve alleys include ground plane treatment, art, and narrow landscape treatments. Uses along the alley are the best way to create a feeling of safety and stewardship. The City should encourage property owners to open up the back doors where possible.
Alleys or through routes can be encouraged or required with new development to break down building scale. This would be highly recommended for Major Downtown Site A and B (Figure 28), extending the delightful space at the rear of Atticus Coffee and Gifts.
The following are the alleyways on which the DSP's efforts are currently being focused: south of Main Avenue between 1) Washington and Stevens, 2) Stevens and Howard 3) Howard and Wall Street and 4) Railroad Alley between Monroe and Madison.
The DSP recently worked with Trek Architecture to produce renderings of the alleys to demonstrate possible end results. To see the renderings, click below.