New to Spokane’s job market and eager to start a life, Kim and Chris Balocco are living in a North Side apartment until they can buy a house.
The couple, both 25, looked at more than 20 apartments before choosing a top-floor one-bedroom unit at Cedar Creek Village.
“It’s like fast-food living,” said Chris Balocco, an auto-body repairman taking time to work out on a treadmill. “There’s a pool, gym, it’s a quick run to the grocery store, there’s even a lady that does nails, isn’t there?” he said to his wife, working out on an exercise bike.
Cinda Arceneaux, 41, and her husband just sold their home in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Along with their teenage son, the Arceneauxs live in a two-bedroom apartment at Cedar Creek. The family is in no rush to buy back into the housing market. “Eventually we will, but we’re well satisfied now,” Cinda Arceneaux said.
North Side developers are betting that the number of families like the Baloccos and number of families like the Baloccos and Arceneauxs is on the rise. And they are planning to serve not only their housing needs, but also to provides places for them to shop and even to work.
One thousand apartment units were built in northeast Spokane in the past 10 years. Another 2,000 units have been approved or are in the process pipeline for construction in the next 10 years.
The area east of Division and north of Francis is already the most densely populated in Spokane, with 54 percent of the area inside the city occupied by apartments. In addition to more apartment units, developers are planning a manufactured home park, 400 single-family homes, duplexes, and commercial and light industrial development.
The unprecedented growth of an area mixing a variety of housing types with commercial and industrial development ushers in new opportunities as well as concerns about traffic and crime.
Much of the growth is possible only because the city of Spokane in 1994 annexed a 711-acre parcel of flat, mostly vacant land known as the Calkins Addition.
City planners envision the area as one of the few city neighborhoods with housing, commercial and industrial uses in close proximity.
Planners expect the community to be largely self-contained, with land set aside for a park, a school, restaurants and shopping, and such industrial uses as warehouses and light manufacturing.
Preliminary traffic studies indicate that of the 40,000 new vehicle trips a day generated by the various projects, perhaps one-quarter would be drivers going form one of the new projects to another.
City Planning Director Charlie Dotson sees a good possibility for an STA park-and-ride lot and easy bicycle and pedestrian travel within the neighborhood and beyond.
“If you have mixed uses you’re increasing the odds of people living and working in closer proximity,” he said.
He sees lot of employment potential at Northpoint and at the yet-to-be-developed commercial and industrial areas.
“There’s good flat ground. You’re increasing the odds of people biking and walking.”
Rich Naccarato’s Cedar Builders is responsible for much of the new development around Calkins Addition. With various partners he owns 735 units in northeast Spokane and hopes to build 900 more, although when and exactly how many will depend on city approval and the marketplace.
The apartment market, Naccarato added is on the verge of being overbuilt.
“I’ll build 50 units, 100 units, 250 units, whatever the market will allow,” he said.
Naccarato said he believes the market will continue to be geared for those seeking a nicer apartment units.
He describes his Cedar Creek Village as “resort like.”
Indeed, potential residents and others touring Cedar Creek are taken around the complex in a golf cart. The pool design was modeled after a Hyatt Hotel in Maui and the office/ clubhouse/fitness center is styled after a French Chateau. Apartment patios and decks face a central courtyard with pool, gazebo, barbeque pit and lots of open space.
Older apartment complexes in the area - many were built back in the 1970s - are less luxurious, but also less expensive.
Wil’Lena Shiflet, manager of the 154-unit Summerwood Apartments off of Magnesium Road said most of her tenants are single parents with an average age of about 30.
“We do see a lot of single parents,” she said. “They’d rather spend time with their children than do yard work.”
Police Officer Duane Willmschen said dense apartment living does necessarily bring difficult problems.
Domestic violence calls are high at some older North Spokane apartments and all complexes have problems with car burglaries, petty theft and vandalism.
Some managers have installed security lighting and patrol parking lots to deter those who don’t belong.
“It’s more of a challenge because they don’t always get to know each other,” said Willmschen. “There’s more transients.”
Even if many of the area’s new residents walk, bike or ride the bus, the growth will have an impact on North Side traffic.
To accommodate the additional traffic, Lincoln Road and Crestline Street would each be widened to five lanes and intersections from Francis to Northpoint will be improved to handle heavier traffic.
Traffic studies also indicate there will be a need for wider lanes, new striping, turning restrictions and traffic signals at Market and Magnesium, Nevada and Sharpsburg, Lincoln and Crestline, and new intersection of Lincoln Road and Helena.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo Map: Calkins Annexation Projects