Downtown Airway Heights, 2020

#21 Airway Heights, Washington

Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 9,332
Drive time to downtown Coeur d’Alene: 50 minutes
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 10 minutes

West Plains Spokane
Airway Heights is 10 minutes up a 500 foot hill from downtown Spokane.

Overall Character: ★★☆☆☆
Urban: ★★☆☆☆
Suburban: ★★★☆☆
Walkability: ★☆☆☆☆
Market Activity: ★★★★★
Farm Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Timber Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Lake / River Town: ☆☆☆☆☆

Concrete Wastelands in Airway Heights
Yoke’s grocery store is the center of Airway Heights, which means a vast surface parking lot is also the center of Airway Heights.

Airway Heights Community Description

The wind-swept plain of Airway Heights is a heck of a town. It has two major casinos owned by two different Indian tribes, two prisons, an airport, and an Air Force base. All of them are either directly adjacent to or located within Airway Heights. Thus, the city should consider a name change from Airway Heights to Airway, Casino, and Prison Heights. Obviously, there’s a lot to juggle from an intergovernmental perspective if you are an Airway Heights city council person.

Between all those crazy land uses are several modern subdivisions, which are livable (aside from the incessant wind). The older part of Airway Heights maintains a grid street pattern and also a degree of neighborhood character (but not much). Airway Heights benefits greatly from its proximity to Spokane, which is 10 easy minutes down the hill.

Highway 2 is the major five-lane thoroughfare through the city and it dominates the urban design and real estate development process for both city planners and others – be them public, private, or Native American. Thus, of all the intergovernmental jurisdictions that do business in Airway Heights, not the least of which being the Department of Defense, it’s the Washington State Department of Transportation (WA-DOT) that chooses whether to deal new development into the game as players come to the table.

But a solution is in the works to create bypass options around Highway 2 by developing roads within Airway Heights connecting to the city of Spokane’s. Either ironically or by happy coincidence, because the Highway 2 bypass plan is solely located within local rights of way, WA-DOT is not necessarily in the driver’s seat when it comes to planning the project. In this instance, Airway Heights can exercise leadership.  

In the end, however, Airway Heights’ municipal leadership has little control over their own community, because it’s the state of Washington, the Department of Defense, and two Native American tribes that have the authority to make all the big decisions.

Northern Quest Casino, Airway Heights 2020
There are two casinos that call Airway Heights home. This is the largest among them, Northern Quest. The other is Spokane Tribe Casino. For the record, Spokane Tribe Casino is way better.

Housing starts in Airway Heights, Washington
Housing demand in Airway Heights is through the roof. Good news is the city and developers are, for the most part, creating good product, with such lovely elements as detached sidewalks, bike lanes, and street trees.

Washington State Penitentiary Airway Heights 2020
That’s the state penitentiary in Airway Heights. Spokane County also has a jail facility just down the road.