Spokane Valley City Council has approved a plan to upgrade and expand the CenterPlace Regional Events Center to enhance community events and increase visitors.
The 54,000-square-foot events center – which opened in 2005 – hosts about 1,000 events per year, including weddings, business conferences and larger community events such as Valleyfest, Crave NW and Oktoberfest.
CenterPlace is booked two to three years in advance, and has seen an uptick in events each year, as well as strong interest from event organizers to use the west lawn area, said Mike Stone, Spokane Valley’s Parks and Recreations director.
“It became obvious to us that we really need to take a look at that site,” Stone said.
The Spokane Valley Parks and Recreations Department met with event organizers from Valleyfest, Crave NW and Oktoberfest to determine CenterPlace’s infrastructure issues. All expressed a need for increased electrical power, access to water, greater accessibility and flat ground to set up tents.
The $1.8 million CenterPlace master plan calls for significant upgrades, including reducing the size of a cul-de-sac, expanding the lawn area to provide flexible space for car shows, and adding restrooms, a storage building, and a performance/wedding venue.
The Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department is working with landscape architect Michael Terrell to develop CenterPlace’s master plan. The city allocated $200,000 in its 2018 budget for the first phase of upgrades that include grading the west lawn area, removing berms, adding electrical services, repairing irrigation and installing sod.
“There’s quite a few berms in the west lawn,” Stone said. “Our objective is to improve circulation and flatten it out.”
The first phase of CenterPlace also includes development of the underutilized north meadow area, which would be leveled out. Electrical service, turf and irrigation would be installed to accommodate future events and a possible wedding venue, Stone said.
“That’s one of our most prized areas,” Stone said. “We have the river, the springs and natural landscape, but certainly there are other things we could bring to the site.”
A highlight of the CenterPlace plan proposes a centrally located hardscaped plaza leading toward the performance venue.
“It’s important because it helps with accessibility and can be used with inclement weather, and visually you can focus down the center of it,” Stone said. “It’s designed to take advantage of events we’ve had and that we think we can have. Potentially, we can do them year-round.”
Councilwoman Linda Thompson said she liked the plan, but questioned safety of the north meadow area because it would extend closer to the street.
Stone said heavy landscape and trees will be placed to act as a vegetative barrier.
Councilman Arne Woodard was also supportive of the plan.
“Great foresight. Great plan. I like it. I hope we can do it,” he said.
Spokane Valley resident Nina Fluegal wondered why extra parking isn’t included in the plan.
“In the summer, where are we going to accommodate all these people with all these activities we have planned?” she said. “That would be quite interesting to see.”
Additional parking spaces will be taken into consideration, Stone said.
Construction for the first phase of upgrades is planned for mid-April and will conclude in June.
“My wish is this could be constructed sooner rather than later,” Stone said.
City Council’s approval of the CenterPlace master plan allows Parks and Recreation to pursue grant opportunities and economic impact studies, Stone said.
“CenterPlace has the potential to seek corporate sponsorships from businesses,” Stone said. “The sky is the limit to where we can go and what we can do.”
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