The city of Spokane’s Design Review Board met Feb. 24 to take a look at the Riverview Condominiums that may be built on the hillside sloping off the 1400 block of West Riverside Avenue, above Peaceful Valley’s Cedar Street, just east of the Cedar Street staircase.
This was the first hearing in the process of granting a binding site plan for the condos. A binding site plan is an application for development on a certain parcel of land.
Developer Mick McDowell owns the land and would like to build a condo and apartment complex on the hillside. Residents of Peaceful Valley have been opposed to this because the condominiums would cast a shadow over their neighborhood and increase traffic on the narrow streets, since the building’s garage would open to Cedar Street.
Julie Neff, urban designer with the city, opened the meeting by saying that the current project is different from one that was first presented to the city four years ago.
No building permit has been filed for the Riverview Condominiums and project architect Steven Meek said the plans presented were “vague and general” because the project isn’t defined at this point.
“The best we can do here tonight is to set expectations for the project,” Neff said. “We are not looking at the building proposal right now. The project as presented does comply with all zoning requirements.”
The Design Review Board looks for whether the project proposal is consistent with downtown urban design guidelines, and then makes a recommendation to the city’s planning department.
Several Peaceful Valley residents were at the meeting reminding the developer’s team and the design review board of the concerns they have.
An increase in traffic through Peaceful Valley was brought up by several neighborhood residents.
“The traffic study was done for the previous project,” said Meek. “At the time it was determined that Cedar was adequate to handle the traffic.” Traffic is not addressed by the Design Review Board, it falls under the city’s engineering department.
Joe Poire, a Peaceful Valley resident, said there are fewer than 300 homes in Peaceful Valley, and most people there walk or bike commute.
“Peaceful Valley will be paying for this project,” Poire said, in regard to the increase in traffic.
Gary Pollard, president of the Riverside Neighborhood Council, said the neighborhood council fully supports the project.
Following the meeting, the Design Review Board recommended that the developer encourages retail or residential use facing Peaceful Valley, explore the development of a pedestrian plaza at the base of the Cedar Street staircase and explore the opportunities for access to parking from Riverside Avenue instead of solely from Cedar Street.
Project plans have to go through preliminary and final approval by the planning department, before the binding site plan may be approved.