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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Then and Now: Trent Avenue development

Spokane Chronicle business writer Frank Bartel wrote in January of 1973 that visitors to Expo ’74 “will get a very close look at the seamier side of Spokane.”

“Trent Avenue,” Bartel wrote, “long has been a skid-road side-street of derelict store fronts, crumbling hotels and grubby taverns facing a jumble of railroad trestles and tracks, is destined to become the front door of an international spectacular focusing on the environment.”

In February 1973, the Spokane City Council approved a half million dollars in funding for limited street renovations to the south side of Trent for the four blocks from Stevens to Lincoln streets that would complement the new park across the street.

Spokane’s own “Michigan Avenue” would be the result, according to then-Mayor David H. Rodgers, referencing Chicago’s historic business and shopping district.

Street parking would be eliminated and traffic would be widened to four lanes one-way westbound. Parklike sidewalks with new street lighting, benches, raised planters and street trees would match the renovations on the north side of the street.

With millions in federal and state funding going into the federal pavilion in the middle of the park and the Washington pavilion, planners hoped the investment would entice redevelopment along Trent. But some land owners weren’t sure that the world’s fair would bring the prosperity some had promised. With the fair only 15 months away, the storefronts from Division to Stevens streets would have to wait until after Expo.

Architect Bruce M. Walker, a partner in Walker, McGough, Foltz and Lyerla, designed the state pavilion, which is today’s First Interstate Center for the Arts. Pondering its post Expo uses, Walker said the large theater and attached convention center facility could be the magnet for convention-type business after the fair. But Walker told The Spokesman-Review in 1973 that the concept really needed a large hotel with a parking garage connected to the convention center complex by a skywalk of some kind.

In 2015, the Davenport Grand Hotel opened as a key piece to the city’s convention infrastructure, coinciding with major renovations to Riverfront Park funded by the $64 million park bond passed in 2014. A skywalk across Spokane Falls Boulevard was added a few years later.

The City Council voted to rename the downtown segment of Trent Avenue Spokane Falls Boulevard in March 1974.