• Proximity to natural resources
• Compact city, convenient commutes
• Regional hub for transport, healthcare, and industry
“I can take my bike from home, be on great uncrowded mountain biking trails, go downtown, and be back home all within a couple hours,” says Doug Mitchell, AIA, principal architect with Madsen Mitchell Evenson & Conrad, a local firm. “Yet if you’re commuting 20 minutes to downtown, you’re living ‘way out.’ ”
• History of slow recession recoveries
• Large government and public sectors don’t contribute to tax base
• Limited high-tech, high-paying jobs
POPULATION & JOB GROWTH
The Washington State Office of Financial Management reports that 206,900 people call Spokane home, with 217,454 expected by 2016. Unemployment was 8.9 percent in 2010.
“Our economy is closer to that of northern Idaho than western Washington,” Mitchell says. “There aren’t a lot of high-tech, high-paying jobs compared to Seattle or Portland.” The higher-paying jobs in the region are available in Spokane’s healthcare and higher-education sectors.
The median home sale price in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 was $162,600, down from $170,200 in the same quarter last year.
“In spite of a historically high ‘housing affordability index’ and low interest rates, Spokane’s home values continue to be affected by weak demand from impacts of the national recession,” Spokane business and development services director Teresa Brum says.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE MARKET
The 7.1-million-s.f. commercial office market was 16.3 percent vacant for 2010, up from 15.2 percent in 2009.
Development in the Arts and University districts is putting more inventory on the market ahead of demand. “The roughly 100-block [University District] on the eastern edge of downtown is nearing the pinnacle of its transformation from a dilapidated railway-transfer station and stockyard to a thriving, live-learn-work-play neighborhood,” says Keith Comes, AIA, principal at local firm NAC|Architecture. “And our firm’s renovation of the Art Deco Fox Theater for the Spokane Symphony was one catalyst to the [Arts and Entertainment District’s] development.”
“With the ongoing development of the north-south freeway—using both state and federal funding—comes the opportunity to reconsider and redevelop neighborhoods and districts that may have been bisected or impacted by this vehicular artery,” says David Huotari, principal with local firm ALSC Architects. “Opportunities for planning, design, and construction look to remain strong.”