I have long been holding back on making a post about the Kendall Yards Project but it’s getting harder to ignore. For a good run-down of the project’s current status and links to articles relating it’s (at times uncertain) history, check out this summary on the Spokesman Review’s site, and another good one here. Basically, it is a 77 acre development nestled between Spokane’s West Central Neighborhood and the Spokane River. It is touted as a mixed use (commercial and residential) development but the commercial aspect of it will only attend the westernmost, downtown-ward end.
One of the great things about Spokane is how affordable it is to have a short commute. We are a moderately sized city with many affordable neighborhoods just minutes from downtown. The mixed use aspect of Kendall Yards will only increase the vibrant urban feel of Spokane.
This type of neighborhood allows people the option of working, shopping and being entertained just steps from their front door. This is good for the environment, and the local economy.Unfortunately, while the original plan included several, it appears that the plan currently being implemented for Kendall Yards involves only one or two mixed use buildings, which will incorporate both ground level retailers and residential lofts. To see further development of mixed use areas would truly be a boon to the region.
Bicycle/ Pedestrian Friendly
Fancy a cycle or a stroll? Do you like to commute by bike, or at least appreciate others having that option to reduce traffic congestion? I know when I first started driving, Spokane traffic seemed to flow better than it does now, and it hasn’t even been 12 years yet.
Last September, an addition was made to the Centennial Trail in the Kendall Yards development. The new stretch features park-like settings and views of the Spokane River. The new addition should ad a nice touch of walk-ability to the neighborhood and it seems to go along with what the developers are trying to accomplish with the project.. It’s been a few years since I rode the trail so I’ll have to give the new section a chance this summer.
Affordability, Sustainability, Energy Efficiency
Aside from having an urban feel and being walk/cycle friendly, Greenstone (currently developing Kendall Yards) touts their commitment to sustainability through tree-lined streets and numerous parks. In my opinion though, building homes that deal with community and societal problems in a sustainable way should be a priority. There are a couple issues I see with the Yards…
Lack of lower income housing: The lower end of the price range for these homes is in the $170k area. This would not necessarily be a problem except that it is located right alongside one of the poorest areas of the state. Still this might not be all bad considering some of the area’s previous residents will no doubt appreciate having access to the Centennial Trail and Olmsted Park.
Greenwashing: Are the homes themselves truly green, sustainable, or beneficial for the residents’ health or the environment. If I were building the homes I would be avoiding the use of off-gasing vinyl and formaldehyde containing products, the homes would generate their own solar energy energy and contain their own purification system for rainwater (there’s this to be fair) and household grey-water. I will note here that I do not have in-depth knowledge of Greenstone’s building practices as compared to other area builders so I’m going to assume they are at the very least building homes with “good” thermal envelopes for energy efficient heating and cooling.
Even with these things in mind it will be nice to see this space get used for something. Might as well spruce up a part of Central Spokane that has seen little development in recent decades. You can find some recent pics of the retail area and buildings at #spokanerising. I will probably be taking some tours of homes and condos in Kendall Yards soon so if anybody is interested in joining me, pipe up!