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Macklemore video shows off Spokane

The video, co-directed by Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty), Lewis and Jason Koenig, has some of the same goofy vibe that made "Thrift Shop" such a smash. As Vulture.com noted this morning, "There are cowbells, name-spelling, and references to Blackstreet. Think of it as a sequel to 'Uptown Funk,' in the opposite direction."

And while it's unclear if the video is supposed to be set in Spokane - a reference to Pike Place Market seems to indicate otherwise - "Downtown" doesn't shy from showing the Lilac City's downtown, good and bad. The Fox Theater, the Paulsen Building, the skywalks and the Parkade are among the downtown landmarks getting some time to shine. There also are shots filmed around the decrepit Otis Hotel and parts of East Sprague Avenue, to add a gritty flavor.   Carolyn Lamberson, SR
Video at link above.
Are you a Macklemore fan?

Lawsuit dropped against Daiquiri Factory amid appeal of eviction

An Atlanta bar has dropped its lawsuit against the controversial (and closed) Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory, as the shuttered business fights its eviction in Washington's appellate courts.

Kechia Matadin, owner of "The Daiquiri Factory" in Atlanta, sued Spokane bar owner Jamie Pendleton last May for alleged copyright infringement following a national controversy over one of Pendleton's drink names. A cocktail called "Date Grape Kool-Aid" drew local and national protests over its connotations to sexual violence, and it was eventually changed before the bar shuttered in June following a court-ordered eviction sought by the property owner.

Matadin's attorney asked to be removed from the federal case in January. This week, U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko dismissed the case under federal court rules.

Matadin wasn't the only one miffed by the Date Grape Kool-Aid connotation. Gonzaga University also sued Pendleton, alleging illegal use of its trademarked mascot and logos in bar promotions. Gonzaga won a permanent restraining order against the bar from future use of its trademarks in a ruling issued earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Pendleton continues to fight to move back into his location on Wall Street. Briefs have been filed in the Washington Court of Appeals asking that a Spokane County judge's eviction order be overturned. Pendleton argues the building's owner, Delaware-based real estate agent FPA Crescent, did not provide the legally required notice that his rent was overdue before moving to evict him. The landlord says it demanded maintenance charges that weren't paid, so they acted within their legal authority to boot the business.

No argument date has been set in the case. The former site of The Daiquiri Factory remains vacant and is listed as available for rent. The business' neighbor, Madeline's, moved to a new location on Main Street earlier this year. Its former home is also vacant and available for rent.

Recorded man pleads guilty to drug charges

The man captured on camera at a downtown skate park handing out what later tested as methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to charges and given credit for time served in jail.

Tyas Kelly, 21, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance last week, according to court records. He received a 14-day jail sentence with credit for time served.

Police watched Kelly hand out the drugs at the Under the Freeway Skate Park late last month using a camera installed by the city. Officials said the camera is not monitored by a uniformed officer, but feeds into a room where police take their breaks and fill out reports. The camera is also not covered by a recent surveillance ordinance passed by City Council that requires Spokane police to report any new cameras or other equipment to the city because it is installed on Parks Department property.

Spokane Valley app gets trade show rollout

Spokane Valley's clever smartphone app is getting a trade show rollout.

The app, which relies on GPS coordinates and Google Places to steer users to the services or activities they're looking for, will be among the featured tech innovations at the city's booth in Thursday's Spokane Valley Chamber Business Show, set for 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mirabeau Park Hotel and Convention Center, 1100 N. Sullivan Road.

Developed in-house, the app was launched last summer but city officials are still trying to get the word out that it's available for free download from both the iPhone App Store and Android Play Store. It's considered an economic development tool because it seeks to help tourists and residents alike realize the Valley generally has the services, activities and recreational opportunities they want.

Users are provided with easy-to-follow maps to whatever they're looking for in a format that has drawn widespread accolades from tourism and city officials across the Northwest.

But while the app puts an impressive, almost encyclopedic array of local information at your fingertips, there's one Spokane Valley question even 21st century technology can't answer: where's downtown?

“Big Brother” arrives downtown, wants your quarters

Over the last month or so, high tech "smart" parking meters have appeared in downtown Spokane, equipped with coin slots and credit card readers.

But yesterday, workers began installing sensors that will detect when a car comes and goes, zeroing out the meter when it leaves and beginning a countdown when it parks. Though the technology will also allow people to add a few extra minutes from afar via a smartphone app, the sensors have caused a stir among parkers.

In an earlier story, two members of the City Council referred to the sensor technology as "Big Brother," but both said they supported the new meters.

The sensors don't look like much. They're just simple grey boxes strapped to the meter's post. But parkers beware: They're watching you. 

Post Falls Still Looking For Downtown

Next up on Post Falls' quest to create a downtown: Spokane Street. The north-south corridor from Interstate 90 south to the Spokane River bridge will receive a makeover featuring raised landscaped medians, a pedestrian/bike trail on the west side, gateway monuments at both ends, decorative lighting and on-street parallel parking. The improvements will start late this summer with traffic signals at Fourth and Spokane next to City Hall. The rest of the $2.2 million project funded by the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency will be done starting next spring. "We want minimal impact to traffic and don't want to tear up Spokane Street in two different construction years," said Matt Gillis, project engineer for Welch Comer Engineers. "It's like ripping off a Band-Aid quickly instead of slowly." The project is the latest aimed at creating a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly city center, Gillis said/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Where would you say downtown Post Falls is?

Shopping: It’s beginning to look…

Over the weekend, there was a big change in display windows in Spokane's downtown Carnegie Square and West End Shopping District. Several stores, including Two Women Vintage Goods and the just-opened Amby Designs, decorated their big front windows in traditional and vintage holiday style.

From all accounts, the first annual Shop Hop was a success, and individual stores are planning open houses and holiday hours. So, enjoy a big plate of turkey and fixings on Thursday because it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas around town.

One thing about a windy day downtown

It makes it harder to pinpoint the source of the marijuana aroma blowing in your face.

New conservation area opens up in Riverfront Park

Today was a celebration of the "new conservation area" in Riverfront Park without much evidence of the old YMCA building that was demolished amidst controversy.

Was it worth it? The opening of the area is beautiful. I don't miss the old building. It was a blight. I just wish there had been a better funding mechanism to tear down the YMCA other than diverting 4.3 million of Conservation Futures money. That's about $200 a square foot. Plus, the demolition went overbudget and the Spokane Park department is already under enough economic duress.  

After the jump, behold…

Free Rooftop BBQ Party for wilderness tonight!

Tonight from 5-9pm on the Saranac rooftop at 25 W. Main, come join Conservation Northwest for the "Free Rooftop BBQ Party for Wilderness." The event goes from 5-9 pm with burgers, beer, wine, prizes and music by Mark Walker Rhodes

At the party you can write a letter to the Forest Service supporting a balanced amount of designated wilderness areas on the Kettle Crest and Colville Nationall Forest for the benefit of wildlife, hikers, and other quiet, non-motorized recreation. Then kick back and enjoy delicious burgers, wine, beer, soda, and live music for free!

The Colville National Forest is a paradise for motorized and non-motorized recreation, with only 3% protected as wilderness, one of the smallest amounts of any national forest in the West. Wilderness areas bring balance to the forest, ensuring habitat for rare wildlife and quiet recreation opportunities for present and future generations of hikers, bird watchers, snowshoers, and other non-mechanized recreation. Your letter will make a difference for the lands you love to hike during this important public comment period.

New bike infrastructure in downtown Spokane

 After work yesterday, camera in hand, I rode south on downtown Howard St. This is one of the new bike lanes the City Of Spokane is implementing with $600, 000 in federal money to create bicycle infrastructure downtown.

It was an awkward feeling. I’m so used to claiming the lane downtown, always riding smack in the middle because I believe it’s safer. A few cars and delivery trucks blocked the lane. Many were still riding on the sidewalk. But one older gentleman came up along side me in a cruiser and said, “It’s about damn time. I usually stay off the streets.” The new Howard lane runs from Lewis and Clark High School, takes a break at Riverfront Park, and then picks up again north on Howard St. to Buckeye Ave.

Ninety percent of the upcoming project consists of painting bike lanes onto a loop of downtown roads bounded by Jefferson Street, Spokane Falls Boulevard, Howard Street and Fourth Avenue, as well as adding racks and other facilities. Where the lane doesn’t fit, you’ll notice a stencil that indicates the lane is to be shared between motorists and cyclists, known as “sharrows,” like in this photo I took on E 37th Ave, on the South Hill. These are increasingly commonplace in Spokane - they’re now on Spokane Falls Boulevard and Riverside Avenue too. What do readers think of sharrows? Do they encourage safer riding and driving behavior from both bicyclists and motorists?

Or do they give a false sense of safety for cyclists? Is this better than nothing – provided that nothing is indeed the only other alternative? What about bike boulevards?

Image courtesy of MetroSpokane.

Country Mouse or City Mouse

I spent a few days in downtown Seattle recently. I love big city life. I enjoy the hustle and the bustle and the anonymity of blending in with the crowds. I love being able to walk everywhere, and the quiet oasises you find in the midst of urban sprawl. Alas, the condos across from my hotel were going for $600,000 to $6 million. A bit steep for my pocketbook. So, instead of downtown Seattle, I’m going to be renting an office in downtown Spokane for the summer. It will have to do.

I have a feeling I’m in the minority among Hucksters. Which lifestyle do you prefer, country life or city life?

City will try again on parking signs

The City of Spokane will replace the signs it attached last month to meters in the new downtown Entertainment Parking District in an attempt clear up confusion over who can park there, and for how long.