Sure, top ten lists at the New Year at cliché, but we’re going to do it anyway.
1 | Activation
In 2014 Downtown Spokane made an effort to activate places and spaces to encourage visitors far and wide to feel like downtown is their living room. The old mainstays, car shows, and Street Music Week were built on and new events took place, such as Bazaar presented by Terrain. An outdoor patio space popped up in front of River Park Square while chess enthusiasts enjoyed speed chess on Wall Street.
2 | Thrilling Commercial Rate Policy
Not to be glib with the title (though we are) but several development incentives made it easier to re-develop historic properties to accommodate affordable housing in the very center of downtown. There are exciting multi use housing projects on the horizon, most notably the former Ridpath Hotel. We expect that more and more individuals will choose to both live, and work, right here in Downtown Spokane.
3 | Huntington Park
It’s rare to receive such a generous gift without requesting it. That’s exactly what happened when Avista renovated the park space on the shores of the Spokane Falls just northwest of City Hall and turned an unattractive parking lot into a public plaza perfect for concerts, gatherings and plenty of wedding and senior portraits. To top it off, Avista’s Post Street Substation adjoining the (now named) Spokane Tribal Gathering Place is expected to be the future home of Mobius Science Center.
4 | On nom nom nom
That’s our way of indicating that Spokane got HUNGRY this year, and ventured into new culinary adventures. Restaurant Week brought out timid foodies and new and exciting projects started popping up throughout downtown. NUDO (and the Ramen Burger) hit downtown with a “pow” while Durkins Liquor Bar made us feel like stylish mobsters with its basement lounge and bespoke cocktails. Our tummies are grumbling in anticipation of Tamarack, Knife Burger Bar, and Madelines when it re-opens on Main Street early 2015. Speaking of food, from First Fridays to Food Truck Palooza, food trucks are here to stay in downtown, and we’re excited about exploring new mobile cuisine.
5 | Spokane got Volume
The Inlander’s Music Festival attracted thousands of musicians and music appreciators into downtown over the course of one weekend last May. In 2014, the now annual event hosted 11 venues and over 80 acts of all different styles. We think that Volume can only get louder in 2015.
6 | Murals everywhere
If Portland has “put a bird on it” maybe Spokane should have “Put a mural on it.” And why not? There are amazing artists in our region, generous too. Artists that receive national attention for their work. In early 2014 four teams were selected by the Spokane Arts Fund to paint murals on the walls of four selected underpasses in the downtown area. Then in the fall, the Mobile Murals Project was placed at Division and Third Streets to beautify an empty lot. What’s exciting about these projects are not only the amount of talent they highlight, but the energy created when you take something utilitarian or unsightly and turn it into something beautiful.
7 | Create Spokane
Let’s talk a little bit more about art. In early 2014 it was revealed that there were around 6,000 local individuals employed in creative endeavors, making the creative sector one of our region’s largest employers. To celebrate that, and Spokane’s emerging arts community, Spokane Arts dubbed October “Create Spokane Arts Month.” Create Spokane hosted open studios, art walks and culminated in an October 30 Costume Ball and Arts Awards. On top of that Terrain found a new home off of Washington and Pacific, the Barlett and Ink Art Space opened their doors and First Fridays downtown received consistent participation from 40 or more venues each month.
8 | Lights
The Stacks at the Steam Plant went Pink in October and will stay lit with various colors all year long to celebrate annual events and causes. Downtown Spokane was so inspired by this that the BID purchased similar lights that can cast colors on to various downtown icons. Currently flanking the Madonna at Macys and the Nordstrom tower, watch for color to brighten and enhance whatever you’re experiencing in downtown. So….what’s your favorite color?
9 | You said Yes to Riverfront Park
Expo 74 certainly had an impact on the landscape of Spokane. It created the beautifully unique Riverfront Park and provided a few our most famous skyline assets (the Pavilion and the Clocktower). 40 years later it’s time for the new legacy, and you voted yes to a 60 million dollar bond that will shine the jewel at the heart of our city (cue the Celene Dion music). We’re excited about the amazing potential in the project and can’t wait to see the final plans.
10 | So many cranes!
A 2014 top ten list wouldn’t be complete without mention of the new Grand Hotel under construction across from the INB Performing Arts Center. Have you seen it? It’s just a little thing, hardly worth noticing, only 700 rooms or so. The cranes hauling up giant slabs of concrete weren’t the only ones dotting the Spokane skyline this year. At one point we counted six, a pretty big number for Spokane. The cranes were an indicator of the explosion of development happening in downtown, from the Grand Hotel and Convention Center expansion, to renovations at the Hutton Building and Pyrotek. Large and small projects show investment in our city and are vital to attracting people to downtown.