A leisurely drive by the boarded-up windows and vacant storefronts reveals the obvious: Sprague Avenue isn’t exactly bustling with economic activity.
And, according to a recent update of a 4-year-old study conducted by ECONorthwest – a Portland, Ore.-based consulting firm – things will likely get worse before they get better on Spokane Valley’s main commercial thoroughfare.
That’s not good economic news, considering the original study concluded that the portion of Sprague that runs through Spokane Valley will only see a demand of 40,000 square feet of commercial space per year for the next 20 years.
“The findings in the 2006 study are still probably justified,” Greg
McCormick, planning division manager, told the City Council during Tuesday’s study session. “If it were conducted today, the demand (for commercial space) would be lower – maybe 10 percent.”
Council members requested an update on the 2006 study, as it was one of the catalysts for the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, adopted last year, which had been designed as a way to deal with some of those problems by offering new uses for property along the corridor. However, many of the new council members elected last November have long maintained that the “cure” of SARP is worse than the sickness of vacancies afflicting Sprague.
Tuesday’s check-up on the ECONorthwest study was the first of a several-step overview of SARP that the council will be conducting during the next few months in order to prepare for the 2011 annual comprehensive plan review. The city attorney has said that is the only legal defensible way to make any drastic changes to the SARP.
Council members had no real quarrel with the results, which – in 2006 -- stated that city planners can expect requests about 21,000 feet of retail space and 19,000 feet for office use each year. But with the bad economy, those results will likely be lower for the foreseeable future and land values will continue to drop due to the oversupply of commercial space. In the greater Spokane area, Spokane Valley has 40 percent of the commercial space and 60 percent of vacant retail property, city planner said.
In 2006, Spokane Valley had 5.5 million square feet of available commercial space.
The findings of the 2006 study can be found on the city’s Web site, www.spokanevalley.org.
The city’s Web page was also the subject of discussion Tuesday, as a new version will go online beginning June 14. In 2008, city officials learned its Internet hot, NextIT, would be abandoning the software for managing context on the site.
The new provider, Qscend Technologies Inc., will allow the city to keep its domain name and retain many of the key features, such as the online polls and surveys that are prominent now, said Carolbelle Branch, the city’s public information officer. Improved navigation, photo galleries and the availability of city documents for public-information request purposes will all be highlights of the colorful new site.
Testing and public workshops to demonstrate the new Web page’s capabilities will be held May 24-28.