Living Downtown -- I am a resident of downtown Spokane and have been excited about all the development in the core of the city over the past several years. Dave Hamer and others had many practical suggestions for improving and revitalizing the downtown ("Empty Spaces," 4/24/03).
One aspect of the growth plan that may be overlooked is the necessity of having more residential opportunities. This would increase overall foot traffic and build community. I live in a recently remodeled apartment building which is stylish yet affordable. The advantages of living downtown are numerous. I have easy access to Riverfront Park, the Centennial Trail, concerts, shopping, restaurants and nightlife.
It has also been great to be in the center of the action during such "uniquely downtown" events such as Bloomsday, Hoopfest, St. Paddy's and the Lilac Festival parades, and even a professional bike race and the passing of the Olympic torch.
My only complaint with living downtown is the lack of a convenient grocery store. I think a Safeway Marketplace or a Trader Joe's would do well and attract even more people to a downtown residency.
Thank you for the article. It presented both the realities of the numerous empty buildings and some great suggestions on how to fill them. I hope that someday still other opportunities for Spokane's downtown will be realized.
Vote Runoff -- Did we vote for this mess? The current mess in our foreign affairs and in our economy may be linked to the way we presently vote for our elected officials, from mayor to president.
The most glaring example in recent memory are all the Nader votes that got tossed in the trash in our most recent presidential election. With "Instant Runoff Voting," for example, in any of those states where no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, those Nader votes would have gone to whomever voters noted as their second choice.
You can read about this rapidly spreading voting format at www.fairvote.org. A fun way to see how this system works is to check out the Alternative Movie Awards at http://alternet.org.alties/2003alties.pdf.
Glass Half Empty -- Thank you for the recent article "Empty Spaces" (4/24/03). As a selling and leasing commercial real estate agent in Spokane, I appreciate the interest and insights of those outside of our industry.
Regarding retail leasing in downtown Spokane, it seems we have the "glass is half empty" syndrome. It is wise to go for a stroll and observe how much lease space is available. Downtown has particularly strong visibility on the street level. And seeing empty retail space is disheartening. We would all like to see thriving businesses downtown attracting local customers and out-of-town visitors. Many are of the opinion that retail space should primarily be that of local businesses only. I commend the emphasis, being a resident myself, but don't think we should limit Spokane's commerce in any way. The article was informative but seemed to take the negative slant of the glass being half empty.
Yet the glass-half-full scenario shows that we have been experiencing resounding successes downtown. It's ironic that in the very same issue of The Inlander, the author mentions the Davenport, Catacombs and the RailSide Center. There is an entire page dedicated to the renovation of the American Legion Building. We have also seen Banana Joe's recent entry into the market. And emphasis by local civic leaders on the viability of the Davenport District has attracted the Big Easy, not to mention establishing what will surely be unique symbiotic relationships with the Fox, the Met and CenterStage.
The truth is you can find empty retail space throughout Greater Spokane. Just take a drive on Division or Sprague. You will also see continual change. And that's what it's all about. One of my jobs as an agent specializing in retail and office space is to attract tenants to available space that will work for them. It has to work for their business specifically and also for their pocketbook. The financial aspect of leasing is difficult for many local entrepreneurs.
Let's be grateful for the positive changes taking place downtown when we consider the financial condition of most Spokane residents. I salute those taking the risks involved in believing that Spokane will support their businesses.
Building a Beauty -- On behalf of Spokane Preservation Advocates, I would like to express an enthusiastic thank you to Steve Schmautz for his renovation of the American Legion Building in the heart of Spokane (as detailed in "Quite a Looker," 4/24/03).
That particular building has been on my mind ever since I shared a superb French meal at the restaurant there during Expo '74.
When I saw the recreation of the roof replacement structure by the skilled team of builders, I was stunned at how the lines of that building fell into appropriate scale and beauty. With Spokane Preservation Advocates, I personally thank you sincerely for the very qualified work. It is already, and is becoming, a thing of beauty and a building Spokane will be more than proud to have in the downtown core. Spokane Preservation Advocates wish Steve Schmautz every economic good success for his efforts.