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Team will set theme for Riverfront Park design

The first of many multimillion-dollar projects to remake Riverfront Park launches this week as the city begins building a team that will determine the overarching look and design of the park.

The design team will likely consist of landscape architects, urban designers and engineers. The city is asking for interested firms and individuals to submit their qualifications. The official request for qualifications will be released on Wednesday.

Whatever team is picked will design the park’s public spaces, including the central plaza, Howard Street promenade, landscaping and all underlying infrastructure.

“It really is the backbone of the entire plan. Once this plan goes in, everybody else has to match,” said Chris Wright, president of the city’s park board, noting that this work will account for about $20 million of the $64 million park bond passed by voters in November. “This is going to dictate how everything fits into the park.”

More than 68 percent of the voters approved the park bond, the largest in Spokane’s history. Over the next few years, the park will be remade in a way not seen since it was created for the World’s Fair in 1974. Before then, it was home to railroads and industry.

Besides the overall design work of the park, other large projects that will go out to bid include the $24 million remake of the U.S. Pavilion, the $4.5 million construction of the new Looff Carrousel building and visitors center, and the $2.2 million relocation of the ice rink.

Juliet Sinisterra, program manager for the park bond projects, said the city will require a three- to four-year contract from the design team.

“They’re going to be around for a substantial amount of time. Most likely the whole time the park’s under construction,” Sinisterra said.

Sinisterra said the team will be paid about 10 percent of the $20 million in construction costs, or about $2 million, which is in line with industry standards.

Three team finalists will be chosen by the park board’s Riverfront Park advisory committee. Those teams will be required to give public presentations describing their ideas for the park. The city’s park board will choose the team from those finalists likely this spring.

“What’s important to the board and the advisory group and the staff is that the park have integrated and consistent themes,” Wright said. “Right now it’s popcorn. The Carrousel is in the old Bavarian beer building. You have sort of a Western theme at the ticket booth for the SkyRide. You have all types of different architecture. We want all of those spaces designed in a consistent manner.”


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