During the Thursday Market in Spokane’s South Perry District, cars are parked in no-parking zones, at yellow curbs and, briefly this week, on the sidewalk at the corner of 10th Avenue and Perry Street.
Navigating the scrum of people and vehicles can be difficult – unheard of even just a few years ago.
But now the Spokane City Council is considering a proposal to demolish two houses for a surface parking lot, which will require payment, in the popular part of East Central Spokane.
Though some residents and business owners in the neighborhood recognize the need for a parking solution in the neighborhood, others question if Perry is the place for a block-long lot.
“To me, it seems totally unnecessary,” said Ned Fadeley, who grew up in the neighborhood and moved back with his family last August. “In Seattle, parking really is an issue. Here, it’s not.”
Jeannie Pacheco, who has lived in a house abutting the proposed lot for 11 years, said parking “is always this way.”
“It’s nice that the neighborhood’s been reinvented, but it is a problem for parking,” Pacheco said. “I wish some of the businesses would be a little more sympathetic to the people who live here.”
Council President Ben Stuckart, who is running the proposal through City Hall, said the lot is an “interim solution” to balance the many interests in the district.
“We need more business districts that are supported by walking and biking and transit. But we’re not there yet,” Stuckart said. “I am all about not requiring parking. I think we need to get over parking. But (Perry is) not dense enough to support people just walking to the businesses.”
The lot, which would stretch from 10th to 11th avenues just east of Perry Street, would be privately built by the father-son team that developed the building occupied by Perry Street Brewing. When complete, it would be leased to the city of Spokane for an estimated $55,000 a year, and the city would raise revenue from the pay-to-park lot. The lot would have 46 stalls for parking and Avista would install two electric vehicle charging stations there, which could accommodate four vehicles.
Residential streets in the district would have signs posting a two-hour parking limit, which would be enforced by the city’s parking services office. With a permit, Perry residents would not be subject to the time limit.
The complicated plan is necessary to appease the developers, residents, customers of local businesses and the city, Stuckart said, even though he condemned new lots as “the antithesis of urban development.”
Last week, Stuckart told members of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Committee that residents have complained about exacerbated parking problems in the area due to the Perry district’s resurgence in recent years following the opening of the Lantern Tap House, South Perry Pizza and Perry Street Brewing. The developers, meanwhile, need a monetary incentive to build the lot instead of a money-earning business, which in turn would draw more people and their cars to the area.
Lastly, the city needs to justify leasing the lot, leading to its plan for metered parking.
While most committee members agreed the parking problem needs to be addressed, they questioned the plan, which has yet to be approved by the council. The East Sprague Business Association, Perry Street Business Association and East Central Neighborhood Council have approved the plan.
“People aren’t going to want to pay” for parking, said Councilwoman Lori Kinnear. “And the two-hour limit won’t necessarily stop people from blocking driveways.”
A briefing paper filed with the committee estimated the annual lease will cost the city $55,000, or about $4,500 a month. The city would sign a 20-year lease and be responsible for insurance, tax, utilities, maintenance and snow removal. Meter revenue would not immediately pay for the lease, but the lot is beneficial to the neighborhood, according to the document.
The lease amount is based on the development estimate from the developers, who estimated it would cost $555,000 to build the lot.
“He’s not going to spend $500,000 until I can confirm we can do the resident permit program cleanly and that we show that this doesn’t hit the parking system,” Stuckart said.
Dave Steele, who manages parking services for the city, told the committee a residential parking permit program will be tested this summer in Peaceful Valley before being brought to Perry.
“They have an immediate need,” Steele said of Peaceful Valley residents, noting the “rafters will begin showing up” in July, taking many of the parking spots in the small neighborhood abutting the Spokane River.
The three parcels where the new Perry lot would be located are owned by CCRC, the company that also owns the building occupied by Perry Street Brewing. The company was recently successful in its request to the City Council for a land use and zoning change on these properties, from a low-density residential designation to a centers and corridors rule that is supposed to promote “the greatest pedestrian orientation.”
Cody Coombs, who along with his father, Dave Coombs, owns CCRC and DMC Properties, declined to comment on the project. Documents filed previously with the city detailed the developers’ earlier plans for the lots, including a restaurant on 10th Avenue.
In 2013, the father-son developers constructed the building occupied by Perry Street Brewing. They also renovated the East Sprague Avenue building where Bennidito’s Pizza opened a second location last year. Dave Coombs owned the downtown Honda and Toyota dealerships before selling them in 2009 to focus on real estate.
Cody Coombs has kept neighbors and other businesses apprised of his plans, many of them said.
Jon Coyne, manager of South Perry Pizza, called the proposal a “double-edged sword.”
“It’s going to be great for the neighbors. They have nowhere to park,” Coyne said. “But also, it’s a parking lot. Do we need a parking lot in the Perry District? A pay-to-park lot? Why not do something else with the building? Turn it into a bakery?”
Coyne, whose restaurant has a parking lot with nine spaces, said he’d like to see the parcels in question used for “anything other than a pizza place or parking lot.”
Chris Imes, owner of Lorien Herbs and Natural Foods, moved her business to the area in 2003 and is supportive of the growth there, but was not happy to hear about the potential for a paid parking lot.
“I think it’s really inappropriate,” Imes said. “This isn’t downtown. What other neighborhood has a paid parking lot?”
Imes, whose store has a small lot with two parking spaces, said a parking lot would help ease the congestion, but said it should be free.
“They have a lot of customers,” Imes said of the brewery. “They should have their own parking lot.”
John Riegel, who lives a block east of the proposed lot, said parking wasn’t much of problem now, but could get worse once a new building at Ninth and Perry is filled with occupants, and the kitty-corner lot is developed.
“In a lot of cities, this would work well. This is a big city, high-density idea,” Riegel said, noting that he’d prefer other business centers in the city to develop rather than Perry getting overrun with more and more businesses.
Riegel did praise the design of the lot, behind a street fronted by buildings, but said the neighborhood should prioritize walking and would be better served as a transit hub than a place to build a new parking lot.
“The timing isn’t right yet, in my opinion,” Riegel said.
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