Since becoming president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of business, Mike Tedesco has been one of the city’s biggest boosters. It’s been a homecoming for Tedesco, who grew up in Spokane and returned to take the DSP job in October after working similar jobs in Seattle and Colorado. He talked with The Inlander about parking, bureaucracy and what to do about the Ridpath Hotel.
INLANDER: How can you attract shoppers to shop downtown when you have to pay for parking and the city is increasing parking meter rates?
TEDESCO: This is downtown, and there’s only one downtown in the whole region, and its downtown Spokane. There are several mall choices in the region. The other shopping choices in the region don’t have all the amenities that downtown has.
Who do you see as a developer who has the money to buy out all the different stakes in the Ridpath?
I don’t even know if I know all the big players in Spokane yet. I certainly know of a good handful of them, about five to seven of them. If we can get to a place where we’re comfortable with the strategy to address the Ridpath, then my next step is to go to all the developers individually and say, ‘I need you to be open to these discussions and get creative with us.’
Bureaucracy was a big campaign issue in the last election. Many of the candidates ran on the idea that city bureaucracy is stifling growth. Do you agree with that assessment?
What I’ve discovered in Spokane is there are a lot of committees to work through. Learning how to navigate that environment … that takes time and it can be challenging. I wouldn’t characterize that as bureaucracy.
Downtown has gone through quite a revitalization in the last few years. Do you think the Downtown Spokane Partnership is still necessary?
Absolutely. I would say there are three reasons why downtown is as healthy as it is. One is the reinvention of River Park Square. That helped save downtown. Two is the reinvention of the Davenport and associated facilities. And three is the Downtown Spokane Partnership and what we do. The success of downtown is a three-legged stool. If you take one of those away, if you take DSP away, that stool gets a lot more wobbly.