What It Is
Since height restrictions were enacted as part of the Downtown Plan Update in 2010, two sites located south of side of Riverfront Park have remained underutilized as surface parking lots in spite of the ownership group’s efforts to develop them. The purpose of the height restrictions were to reduce shadowing of Riverfront Park but a renewed interest in top quality, large scale development befitting a major park renovation has exceeded the interest in minimal shadowing. The owner group and brokerage team have identified existing height restrictions - with the corresponding reduction in developable space and profitability - as the reason that the sites have remained undeveloped as surface parking lots. Assessment of shadowing impacts of larger buildings on the park show that, although there is an increase in shadows from buildings of this size, they are relatively small during spring through fall.
The DSP Board unanimously endorsed reduced/eliminated height restrictions at its March 2017 meeting. In 2018, the DSP maintains that height restrictions along Spokane Falls Blvd. are hindering development at two major opportunity sites identified in the 2009 Downtown Plan. In March of 2018 staff produced a White Paper outlining reasons why the restrictions should be lifted.
Where We Are
The City conducted a working study of the height requirements with a final report issued and adopted late 2017. In accordance with the findings of that report, the City is seeking input into possible amendments to the height restrictions on the south side of the park. The current proposal is to allow greater heights in that area in exchange for a limitation on uses in towers (residential or hotel only) and consideration of shadowing impacts on the Park. Under consideration are limitations on the floor size of towers and the distance between them. The DSP asks that members provide statements to the Plan Commission to demonstrate to our elected officials that the downtown business community is united behind providing opportunity to develop mixed-use projects of regional and even national prominence at two of our most significant remaining Opportunity Sites (as defined in the Downtown Plan Update) - the Liberty Building and Parkrite parking lots on Spokane Falls Blvd. TALKING POINTSBack to Strategic Priorities