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Last Thursday, SSYP did a “Beer With Jennifer Hall” event at the new Main Market Co-op downtown. It was the first opportunity we had to get up on the roof during construction.

The plans for the store will simply blow you away. Their/our website (I say “our” as a reminder that membership means partial ownership) is chalk full of interesting information and other opportunities for learning. Check it out and support with an early membership to hasten the grand opening of the store!

“Paralysis By Analysis”


Peaceful Valley is a gem but the secret is out and running up the hill. The scenic location and closeness to downtown are too much to resist for developers. For several decades, the neighborhood has resisted drastic changes and remained a sweetly paced, unique community in the heart of Spokane.

Our first Indians fished here, wood-frame homes designed by miners and loggers still make up the district, and today residents work hard to retain that integrity. The Peaceful Valley Charrette was a recent effort to involve the community in the design and planning process around the neighborhood’s parks.

Now the Riverview Condominium proposal looms, a creeping abstraction some neighbors say is equivalent to a solar eclipse. It is a monolithic juxtaposition in a neighborhood full of small charms and idiosyncrasies. Residents who had worked tirelessly to improve the neighborhood opposed the tower. So they sued and were called NIMBYs for their efforts. Then developer Mick McDowell filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to bypass the comprehensive plan and build the tower for less money closer to Peaceful Valley. It was part of this controversy that birthed the more controversial Proposition 4 – to give neighborhoods a stronger voice in the development process.

Image courtesy of Steven Meek Architects.

The City Design Review Board examined elements of the condo proposal at 1404 W. Riverside Avenue just east of the Maple Street Bridge and it sounded like the structure adhered to all downtown design guidelines, codes, and zoning regulations. The stars aligned for developers since the property is located in a special height district that allows a construction height of 150 feet off of Riverside Avenue and north of the street for 100 feet. The project includes:

  • 18 floors of residential on top of a 3 floor parking garage.
  • 60 total units.
  • There will be approximately 93 parking stalls in the garage for a ratio of 1.55 stalls per unit.
  • The site is approximately 96 feet wide and 212 feet long.

Still, a building permit application has yet to be submitted. It’s easy to look at McDowell with a jaundiced eye and not just with knee-jerk defiance to a new developer in an old neighborhood. This from McDowell in an interview with the Spokesman:

“I find the constant paralysis by analysis frustrating. I have never ever shied away from presenting my case to a jury of peers. If I have a disagreement with a neighbor and we both present our cases to the appropriate body, I will live with the decision that’s reached. But what drives me wild is when we have a holdup of the process by a minority. It drives me wild.”

Not exactly a display of the self-consciousness a concerned neighbor would hope for in the role of the development process. But if you build it, will they come?

Builder George Doran knows. He lost hundreds of thousands on his Peaceful Valley project, the Lina Marta Condos, located at 1405 W. Water Ave. And this was just a four-unit building! Word is that foreclosure awaits. “Maybe we went a little overboard for that area as it is right at the moment,” Doran said in a story, aptly titled.

While we’re all for dense living and urban revival in old neighborhoods, the Riverview structure would be Spokane’s mammoth pink elephant, casting a shadow on century-old dwellings. Peaceful Valley residents cherish the unique and fragile – whether student murals on the Maple Street Bridge or renovating a dilapidated house – and they are deeply rooted in this place as the landscape continually threatens to change. Something important is at risk of being lost.

Can you say SPOKE(a)N(e)?


Spring 4-Ward: Local Micro Media Part 2

Spovangelist reader, freelance writer and Gonzaga student Brittany Wilmes beat us to the punch on this story. Read her insightful interview (excerpted below) with SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine editors Tyson and Sara Habein.

To summarize, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is a monthly .pdf publication that features the people, places and events of Spokane’s “creative community”. Taking a broad view of what that includes, SPOKE(a)N(e) goes beyond the typical music and visual arts coverage to include DIY fashion, community radio, graphic design, poetry, photography, film, offbeat theater and even news from the local comic community, to name a few.

The electronic format allows the magazine to include multiple full length interviews, an approach that is largely absent from the Inlander’s arts and culture coverage. Even better is the intriguing mix of established and emerging artists that are featured. Our favorite interview question is “What do you like about the Spokane creative community, and what would you like to see more of?” This angle gets at the heart of the optimism and dedication local creatives have for Spokane’s growing scene.

The absence of printing costs also allow for multiple page photo series that feature the work of Tyson’s YellowHouse Photography. Such prolific local eye candy makes up for the publication’s rather simple and utilitarian black/white/pink block layout design.

As with most Spokane style shoots (see Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Feb. ‘09), a subtle urban vs. rural theme runs through these sets.

What adds an extra dose of authenticity to SPOKE(a)N(e) is the circumstances under which it is produced:

T: It’s very lo-fi. We’re working with Photoshop 6 and old, ancient software.
S: We’re on a dial-up connection. We live out in Rockford.

T: There’s two of us, but I have a day job and we have two kids.

T: I like the amount of variety that’s in Spokane. We’re both from Montana, and where I grew up, in Billings, it was very rare to see something non-traditional – that is, that wasn’t oil-based landscape paintings or high school kids starting a punk band.
It’s great to see art that’s unique, like spoken word artists and folks making their own clothes. It’s pleasing to see people in Spokane who don’t mind freaking out the grandmothers of the world.
S: Coming here, in some ways, the scene is just a little bigger. The size of the city provides a greater likelihood of there being variety.
T: I think Spokane is on the cusp of being a vibrant, creative community. I think it’s looked down upon in the Pacific Northwest, but it will depend upon who decides to stay and give it a go here.

In an effort to attract more independent contributors like Lloyd Phillips and Alex Toney, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is now offering 1/4 page ad space for writers to do with as they please. What would you use it for? We like that the SPOKE(a)N(e) staff aren’t afraid to self-promote and ask for revenue in exchange for the attention of their audience.

Looking forward, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine seems like it is here to stay. While their efforts aren’t all that sophisticated to start, simplicity is a key part of long term viability. Basic business sense is also an important part of micro media longevity. And with longevity comes the confidence and trust of the community.

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