The west end of downtown was leveled up this week.
A year ago, a dirt lot claimed the center of this mini-neighborhood sandwiched between downtown Spokane and Browne’s Addition. This week, a new public plaza and the city’s first urban dog park opened, joining a rising residential tower and the brisk renovation turning an old auto garage into a future brewery.
We can thank, in part, the $24 million, 2.4-million-gallon stormwater tank the city installed below the plaza on Adams Street between First and Sprague avenues. The tank is the latest installment of a $200 million “combined sewer overflow” system intended to stop the flow of raw sewage into the Spokane River. In 2017, the city reported that 144 “outfall” events released 71 million gallons of untreated water into the river.
Raw sewage in the river and construction closing streets down are no fun. Public outdoor space is the opposite, said Marlene Feist, the city spokeswoman who has worked with the utilities division on the stormwater project for five years.
“One of the goals of the CSO program is to leave those sites better than what they were. The river health impacts are amazing, but those are sometimes hard to remember. The pains of construction linger. This gives people something to enjoy,” Feist said. “It’s just fun.”
When the plaza and dog park opened this week, dogs and their owners – like any good bloodhound – found the park before it was really even complete. That’s not a big surprise, considering that within a block of the park there are 250 apartment and condominium units and no other green space other than the grassy median of Riverside Avenue.
The sudden wealth of outdoor space will be a boon for development in the area.
The rising seven-story, $9.5 million residential tower at 1309 W. First Ave. will have 51 apartment units on its upper six floors, and a residential lobby and restaurant space on the ground level. The project, expected to be complete by the end of the year, is being developed by Jordan and Joel Tampien, brothers and co-owners of 4 Degrees Real Estate, and brothers Matt and Ryan Goodwin.
4 Degrees Real Estate is also renovating the old Watts Automotive shop, 1312 W. First Ave., into a 6,600-square-foot brewery production facility and tap room called Brick West Brewing, which is anticipated to open in the fall. The building also will have a large restaurant, and the roof will feature a patio with covered seating.
The brick wall of Watts that faces the new plaza will get some large holes punched out this week, Jordan Tampien said, which will allow seating on the plaza. Tampien, through his company, will run the event programming for the plaza in a pilot project with the city.
Tampien said he envisioned all kinds of events in the plaza, including a farmers market, yoga in the park, food trucks, an outdoor music festival akin to the defunct Elkfest, and, considering the plethora of breweries in the immediate area, a beer festival.
“Basically everything you see in all the cool areas of any other city,” Tampien said, adding that he wanted the plaza and its surroundings to have a busy “Pioneer Square feel” like in Seattle.
Tampien said they’re in the process of hiring a program director, but said his “goal would be getting a farmers market going as soon as possible, mid-June.”
Though he’s behind some of the work, Tampien marveled at how quick the area changed, even if he had an explanation for the transformation.
“It helps when you do a bunch of projects in a really small area,” he said.
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