Downtown Spokane's University District, home of Washington State University's medical school and the medical education partnership between the University of Washington and Gonzaga University, is starting to throw off sparks of development, both public and private.
Today, you can see the footings go up for the University District Gateway Bridge, which will give cyclists and pedestrians a way to cross the railroad tracks that divide Sprague Avenue from the University District when it opens in September of 2018. Avista's recently announced Catalyst project, to be located on the south side of the pedestrian bridge, is starting to take shape, too.
"All summer, we just cleaned up the site," says Latisha Hill, Avista Development's senior vice president. Once the site is ready and permits are in place, the plan is to build at least 140,000 square feet of space on about five acres located just a quick ride from campus. Some could be office, some could be high-tech lab space.
Hill says Avista plans to consult closely with the local med schools to address their needs and hopefully give spin-off businesses a future home.
"We just call it the business of health," she says, "and there are lots of components to that. So we don't want to pigeonhole it at this point."
Meanwhile, local developers are watching as the University District Public Development Authority (spokaneudistrict.org) guides what it calls Spokane's "burgeoning health sciences ecosystem" into the future. The new span connecting up to Sprague is expected to grow that footprint even more. It is, in the words of Spokane Mayor David Condon, "the perfect next step" for the University District.