Downtown Spokane will see the construction of its first skywalk in 20 years, and at least one Spokane City Council member hopes it’s the last.
The City Council on Monday approved the permit for a skywalk connecting the convention center with the Grand Hotel Spokane, the 15-floor, 716-room hotel currently being raised across the street.
The elevated walkway is estimated to cost at least $1.5 million, and will be paid for by the Spokane Public Facilities District, which owns and runs the convention center. The project will be paid for with taxes approved by voters to expand the center.
Kevin Twohig, CEO of the facilities district, said the skywalk bridge would be installed in December, and the skywalk will be complete in March.
“It’s going to be pretty obvious there’s something going on,” Twohig said.
Spokane’s first skywalk was built as downtown was experiencing a major redevelopment prior to Expo ’74, including the construction of the Parkade. Downtown’s first three skywalks still span the sky around the intersection of Main and Howard. Currently, 15 skywalks connect downtown buildings.
Councilman Jon Snyder supported the agreement to build the skywalk but said the elevated pedestrian bridges are detrimental to ground-level stores.
“They pull too much action off the street,” he said. “It makes it hard to have street-level retail.”
Snyder said this skywalk was different, because it connects the convention center to a hotel built specifically for it. The Davenport Hotel Collection, a Spokane company owned by Karen and Walt Worthy, is developing the hotel on land they purchased for $6.67 million.
Snyder, a vocal advocate for pedestrian access throughout the city, said skywalks are a vestige of the 1970s.
“The day when we need to build more skywalks in the city is done,” he said.