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STA likely to stay at the Plaza

Sun., March 23, 2008

A proposal to move Spokane’s central bus depot to the edge of downtown is losing favor.

In response to requests from business leaders, the Spokane Transit Authority considered selling the STA Plaza and moving its buses to the Intermodal Center, the city’s stopping point for Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains.

But a consultant’s report presented this month shows that option is more expensive and less efficient and could result in fewer people riding buses.

“The Plaza looks like a better, more cost-effective way to go,” said STA CEO Susan Meyer.

STA Board Chairman Mark Richard echoed her analysis.

Meyer and Richard added, however, that the transit authority won’t make a final decision about the Plaza until a traffic study is completed later this year.

The STA Plaza, at 701 W. Riverside Ave., was built in 1995 at a cost of $20 million – an amount that generated considerable controversy. The building was appraised at only $3.2 million a decade later, largely because it’s not suited for other purposes.

The consultant’s report about the Plaza, which was completed by Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, shows that moving to the Intermodal Center would cost at least $4 million, while renovating the Plaza would cost half that.

The report is a portion of a two-year, $442,000 study the STA commissioned to create a long-term plan.

Changes at the Plaza would be aimed at decreasing loitering and putting more emphasis on transit services. The report suggested turning the second floor into office space and moving shops and restaurants to the ground level. Concentrating riders on the first floor would make the area easier to patrol, officials say.

Some downtown business leaders have complained that the Plaza’s design encourages loitering and crime.

Marla Oleniacz, spokeswoman for the Downtown Spokane Partnership, said the organization encouraged STA to examine moving out of the Plaza. She said, however, that the renovation may do enough to decrease loitering.

Catrece Dodson, a Spokane resident who takes the bus at least once a week, said she prefers the Plaza because it’s in the center of downtown and attached to skyways.

“This location is more convenient,” she said while waiting for bus in the Plaza.


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