A steady local economy, availability of jobs, affordable homeownership and year-round recreation are just a few of the reasons many locals are staying put in Spokane and many couples and families from larger markets are deciding to move here. As the population grows, the metropolitan area continues to expand. Five Mile, Mead, the Upper South Hill and the corridor between Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake are all seeing new condo and apartment complexes and designed neighborhoods. Being no further than 20 minutes from the downtown core from just about anywhere in town allows workers to choose the area of town they most enjoy while not being nearly as affected by their commute as larger metropolitan areas.
While the expansion outward is to be expected, a resurgence and reinvestment in longstanding Spokane neighborhoods is also becoming more and more common. If you ask someone from Seattle where they are from, they will almost always tell you a very specific neighborhood: Green Lake, Belltown, Ballard, West Seattle. In Spokane, a common reply was a lot more broad: South Hill, Northside, Valley. But as neighborhoods continue to add a mix of business and residential, more and more locals are eager to share just “exactly” where they are from.
Developers and those looking to open a business are finding that more and more homeowners are seeking a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a mixture of restaurants, shops and services near their home. While this is consumer driven, there are also other factors that are aiding in creation of these neighborhoods within Spokane.
“For Spokane to continue to grow within the state-issued urban growth boundary we must develop smaller chunks of land,” said Nate Gant, a Broker at RE/MAX of Spokane with 12 years experience in the market. “To make these chunks of land financially feasible for development mixed use is the key. The commercial aspect offsets many of the costs of the residential development.”
The prime example of this is the Kendall Yards neighborhood, an area which is exploding in popularity. A five-minute stroll down Summit Parkway and you’ll encounter a myriad of dining options, several tasting rooms, ice cream, art space and local shops. The proximity to the Centennial Trail allows residents an easy commute into Downtown Spokane. Even with its close proximity to downtown, Kendall Yards feels far removed from a crowded city.
“In the past, living downtown was only for the affluent. With the development of Kendall Yards and the downtown corridor, a young professional can now afford to live, work and play downtown,” said Gant.
The diversity in dining options is a big draw here. You can get wood-fired pizza whole or by the slice at Veraci, share delicious small plates at Wandering Table or have classic diner-style or a slightly more creative breakfast at The Yards Bruncheon. There are two wineries as well as a specialty shop for those in search of an easy place to sample multiple Washington wines.
Housing here is mixed with everything from studios to multi-level family living. A few apartments are located directly above the street with larger complexes adjacent to the core of the neighborhood. A little further down the street, there are condos, as well as single-family homes. Parks and plenty of green space are appealing to buyers, and the western front of the development is also seeing additional businesses and food options pop up.
While prices are starting to stabilize, homes in Kendall Yards tend to be much higher than other areas of town, which is also having an impact on the neighborhood directly behind it.
West Central Spokane has gotten a bad rap for a long time, however, buyers who aren’t afraid of a little work on a home are finding affordable decades-old homes they can put their own stamp on.
“Owner occupants have taken pride in the homes they purchase and really done wonders for the neighborhood,” said Gant. “This has allowed investors to purchase properties with a troubled past to renovate or vacant lots and build homes that have become the hot commodity.”
The walkability, close proximity to downtown, success of Kendall Yards and new businesses such as The Backyard have been key to West Central's growth.
Another neighborhood north of downtown that is seeing resurgence is the Garland District. Home prices here are typically still a little lower than newer developments, and the neighborhood features the same eclectic mix of shops, dining, drinking and entertainment.
Where Kendall Yards created something shiny, new and modern from a patch of barren ground, to the south, the Perry District is focused on keeping the look of the original neighborhood, and buyers are putting this neighborhood toward the top of their list.
“For 10 years I described the Perry District as upcoming but not arrived—now it has absolutely arrived,” said Gant.
Buyers are again drawn in by the neighborhood feel and easy walk to restaurants, cafés, studios and shops. Perry Street Brewing is a local favorite and kid friendly, Casper Fry serves up Southern home cooking, and The Shop is a comfortable place for a coffee. The weekly summer farmers market is a huge draw, and kids love to run around Grant Park. Having an elementary school right in the middle of all the action is something young families find very appealing. There are also places to eat off the main drag like Wisconsinburger, located in the middle of a neighborhood at 9th and Hatch, and The Grain Shed, a local bakery with small brewery adjacent.
Moving further up the hill, the addition of a Target superstore several years ago transformed the area of Regal Street between 46th and 57th. The City of Spokane is currently renovating the Southeast Sports Complex to include even more soccer fields, and the early stages of a new neighborhood adjacent to the fields are also in the work. Dubbed Radio Tower Village, the new development located across the street from Target will be a model very similar to Kendall Yards—a mixture of businesses, single-family homes and condos. Initial plans call for seven different commercial structures within the village and a total of more than 180,000 square feet of retail space. There are already several apartment complexes surrounding the area, giving these tenants an additional easily walkable neighborhood as well. Gant feels this trend is not likely to slow down anytime soon.
“People place high value on walkability, nearby shopping and local restaurants and are willing to pay for these conveniences and this simpler lifestyle.”
While the housing market is fluid, the popularity of these neighborhoods has definitely driven up home values as more and more locals and newcomers find this style of living appealing. Gant says buyers should be prepared for as low as $175,000 for a nice home in West Central. In the Perry District they should always be prepared for a bidding war on property below $300,000. In Kendall Yards, a homebuyer should be prepared to pay over $300,000.
It’s easy to fall in love with a home upon first impression, but planting roots in a neighborhood is a life-altering decision. Young people might not be thinking about kids playing in the front yard, and empty nesters might not realize the additional traffic or potential parking issues they might have to deal with. Gant recommends really getting to know an area before committing to living there.
“Walk through each neighborhood at various times of day and on different days of the week. Friday night at 10pm might feel far different than Sunday at 10am.This will give you a true sense of what suits your lifestyle,” he said.
If you’ve lived in Spokane 20 years or 20 minutes, checking out these and other unique neighborhoods is a must do. You’ll find business owners committed to their neighborhood and a community that is proud to back them. Fun events, music and festivals are held often and bring out the best in neighborhood pride. The next time someone asks you where you’re from, will you say Spokane, North Spokane or perhaps something a little more specific?