Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods –
Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10
Predominant Housing Prices:
Ownership: Around $290,000
Rentals: Around $1,100
Housing Density: Moderate
Mixed Use Rating: Good
South Perry Neighborhood Description
It wasn’t too long ago when the South Perry Neighborhood had a less than desirable reputation. Growing up the neighborhood, I would routinely ride my bike to the old Altamont Pharmacy and buy penny candy. The trip, however, involved navigating Grant Park unscathed. As a fourth-grader with low blood sugar I was willing to take the risk. To say the least, unsavory characters enjoyed loitering around Grant Park – nothing gets your heart pounding quicker than being chased by homeless people.
I bought my first pack of cigarettes, all of 11-years old, at the old R & R corner store. It was owned by a Korean family. Needless to say, both parties in the transaction didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
Kissed my first girl, Amber, in her shanty, ramshackle apartment while her mom was away (who knows where). I was 10, she was 12.
But the South Perry Neighborhood isn’t on this list because of my nostalgia for the area. No, it’s on the list because today the old R & R is now a Wisconsin Burger, and the old Altamont Pharmacy is now an upscale hipster restaurant. While we’re on the subject, I’ve also quick smoking cigarettes. But, alas, I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to Amber.
Indeed, the South Perry Neighborhood has transitioned since my departure 28 years ago from a place where the neighborhood kids sit around and smoke cigarettes to one of the hippest destinations in the city.
Elements that Create Great Neighborhoods
An Identifiable Center
South Perry’s neighborhood center is generally from about 8th Avenue up to about 11th along Perry Street. Pubs, little shops, eateries, and an energetic, active street environment greet the visitor upon entry. Particularly during summer evenings, the South Perry Neighborhood center is bustling with energy. City of Spokane boosters trumpet South Perry as an economic development victory, and rightfully so, and it’s investments in the neighborhood center that have proved most significant to revitalizing the neighborhood.
South Perry’s boundaries are mostly quite subtle. Along the peripheries of the neighborhood, it would be easy to argue whether or not you’re actually in it. Along Perry’s southern flanks the neighborhood transitions into the east end of downtown, it is here you will find some of Spokane’s most hidden residential areas, particularly overlooking the cliffs above Liberty Park.
A Front Door
There are no front doors into the South Perry Neighborhood. The biggest opportunity exists along Author Street, which is an arterial that curves into Perry Street as one travels south bound away from downtown.
Mixed Land Uses
South Perry does well with this category. The nearer you get to the neighborhood center, the more diversified the land use mix.
South Perry is among Spokane’s older neighborhoods. There is a great mix of residential architecture of all shapes and sizes throughout the neighborhood. Old and new commercial investments also add much character to the neighborhood.
Structures that Address the Street
With only a couple of exceptions, the South Perry Neighborhood interacts with the traveler quite well. Expansive front porches, zero setbacks, and wide sidewalks enable structures to interact with the street.
Streets that Generally Connect
Most streets in the South Perry Neighborhood connect. The expansive Grant Park and Elementary School grounds are the only inhibitors (in a good way) that enable all streets from connecting.
South Perry has a mix of attached sidewalks that hug the street and detached sidewalks separated from the street with a tree lawn. The good news is the entire neighborhood has sidewalks and there are few, if any, gaps in the pedestrian infrastructure.
Street trees within South Perry are somewhat spotty. Along some blocks, a dense, uniform line of foliage exists. Along others, however, there is room for improvement.
Although in the farther flung reaches of the South Perry Neighborhood, walkability may diminish, for the most part it is entirely possible to live in the neighborhood without owning a vehicle.
The most glaring challenge for the South Perry Neighborhood lies at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Perry Street. An old, vacated grocery store dominates the intersection, surrounded, of course, by a vast surface parking lot. This dead zone does, from time to time, attract graft and just generally acts as blight to the surrounding revitalization efforts. The parcel itself represents the largest redevelopment opportunity in the neighborhood and is ripe for a public/private partnership. The parcel is large enough to support a higher density, multi-story, mixed use development; thus, a well-designed project that integrates smart growth principles is the last hurdle for South Perry to rightfully take a seat within the hipster promised land.