The city of Spokane Valley has hired a consulting team to draft a plan for growth and change along the Sprague-Appleway corridor that runs through the middle of the city.
Work on the $430,000 study has begun, and is expected to be completed late this year or early next spring, says Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite. The consulting team includes: Studio Cascade Inc., of Spokane; ECONorthwest, of Eugene, Ore.; Freedman Tung & Bottomley, of San Francisco; and Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin Lopez Rinhehart Inc., of Orlando, Fla.
The study will look at ways to improve the business environment, address traffic issues, and consider the possibility of building a city hall, library, and community center along the corridor.
Sprague is kind of like the pulse of the community, says Wilhite. Currently, there are many vacant buildings on the corridor, and business owners there have expressed concerns. Our goal is not only to strengthen the businesses there, but to encourage other businesses to move in.
Currently, the Sprague-Appleway couplet stretches nearly three miles from about where Interstate 90 crosses Sprague east to University Road, but the city plans in the future to extend the couplet for another 3.5 miles farther to Sullivan Road.
Wilhite says some business owners along Sprague were unhappy when the couplet opened just prior to the citys incorporation in March 2003. The couplet created two one-way streets, with Sprague carrying westbound traffic and Appleway Boulevard carrying eastbound traffic, while in the past, Sprague had been a two-way thoroughfare. The change resulted in some reduced traffic on Sprague.
She says a few businesses there have since closed their doors, some experienced an initial loss of revenue that they later restored as shoppers learned to navigate the street change, and others, including restaurants, have yet to recover from lost revenues.
Matt Jankowski, who owns a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet along the couplet at 9512 E. Sprague, says the couplet has been damaging my business. He says sales have increased at the other six KFC stores he owns in the Spokane area, but at the Sprague operation theyve dropped 25 percent below the performance of the other stores.
He says hes had to reduce the Sprague Avenue stores staff to 10 from 25 since Sprague became a one-way arterial.
All of the cars go by at 8 a.m. (heading west toward Spokane), and Im not open until 10:30 a.m., he says. If that was my only store, Id probably be out of business right now.
The planned study will analyze the amount and type of commercial activity the corridor can support, and assess the possibility of attracting regional customers through other kinds of development. Wilhite says land along the corridor and between the legs of the couplet is primarily zoned for retail uses, but other uses, such as office, light industrial, and even residential, will be studied.
Theres so much retail, and traffic speeds have picked up, so sometimes its hard for shoppers to find businesses theyre looking for, she says.
She says auto dealers along the corridor, some of which are situated so they front on both legs of the couplet, have benefited from the redirection in traffic flow. Those dealerships have expressed interest in the study and are encouraging changes in signage ordinances there.
Traffic patterns at major intersections along the corridor, including at Argonne, Mullan, Pines, and Sullivan, also will be studied, Wilhite says.
Rich Munson, a city councilman, says earlier city surveys uncovered a strong interest in forming a city center for Spokane Valley, but the term city center wasnt defined in the survey. Whether citizen intent is to develop over time a city complex, a downtown-like city core, or something more will be addressed in the new study, he says.
Wilhite asserts the natural location for whatever center that could evolve from the study would be along the corridor, and the citys new facilities would be in that area.
The first phase of the study will focus on what the community wants for the corridor and how to reasonably make changes to achieve it, city documents show. The second phase would develop a community-acceptable vision for the future corridor and city center, and the final phase would devise a plan to attain that hoped-for vision.
Contact Rocky Wilson at (509) 344-1264 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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