Expert navigation of Spokane real estate, neighborhoods, cities, economic development, local politics, and living.

Mission Park Spokane

#11 Mission Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Mission Park squeezes a whole lot of amenities into 13 simple acres of flat, tree-lined greens. The Park is the recreational anchor of the historic Logan Neighborhood. Located only a few blocks from Gonzaga University, Mission Park provides a venue for students and families to enjoy the outdoors. The park is firmly woven into the fabric of Spokane. Historic buildings and old homes interplay with Mission Park’s surroundings almost to perfection. Not to mention, let’s count the amenities: baseball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, playground, splash pads, Spokane River frontage, Centennial Trail connectivity, and a pool. […]

Corbin Park Spokane

#10 Corbin Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Corbin Park is a former horse-racing oval that now offers a green oasis on the lower north side of Spokane. How cool is Corbin Park? The park was designed in 1916 by the Olmsted brothers whose father, not coincidentally, designed Central Park in New York City. Renowned park planners in their own right, parks throughout the City of Spokane were influenced by their wisdom, and Corbin demonstrates some of their hallmark planning techniques by creating different spaces in different places. Despite being a flat, nearly perfect oval, as you meander from one side of Corbin Park […]

Audubon Park Spokane

#9 Audubon Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Audubon Park is 27 acres of rolling Ponderosa Pines, playgrounds, splash pads, ball fields and basketball courts. Located in northwest Spokane in the Audubon / Downriver neighborhood, Audubon Park anchors one of the quaintest neighborhoods in town. Acreage and playground space in the park gets a boost from Finch Elementary, located in Audubon’s northeast corner. Therefore, if the park’s playgrounds are a bit too rough and tumble for your toddler, you can wander up to the school and utilize their toddler-oriented playground and feel a bit more secure in their fenced-in play areas. Audubon Park is […]

Comstock Park, Spokane

#8 Comstock Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Comstock Park is similar in almost every way to Audubon Park (the 9th best park in Spokane) except for one significant factor, instead of a simple splash pad, Comstock has a full-blown pool and aquatics area. Comstock Park is the first park on the list located on Spokane’s South Hill in the Comstock neighborhood. At nearly 25 acres, with rolling greens, mature trees, playgrounds, and ball fields, you may be surprised to hear that Comstock is one of the worst parks on the South Hill of Spokane. This says much about Spokane’s superior quality of park […]

Cannon Hill Park Spokane

#7 Cannon Hill Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Cannon Hill Park is perhaps the most picturesque in Spokane. Meandering meadows, stone-built footbridges, and a rich canopy of deciduous trees create a scene fit a for a La Grande Jatte painting. If Manito Park is the heart of the South Hill, Cannon Hill Park is the soul. Once a brick quarry, when the clay was mined out in the early 1900s, the famed Olmsted Brothers designed the rolling meadows and duck pond seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood. Today, Cannon Hill Park serves as one of Spokane’s post-card scenes. Cannon Hill is the second smallest park […]

Cliff Park

#5 Cliff Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Cliff Park is brilliant in its simplicity yet unique in many ways. Clocking in at the 5th spot on Spokane’s Best Parks list, it’s also the smallest of the bunch (only 4.2 acres). Cliff Park’s center piece is a giant basalt outcrop that towers above the surrounding neighborhood. There are no playgrounds or splash pads or ball fields at Cliff Park, just meandering trails that lead you to the top of the cliff. Children love getting lost in the park’s trail network. As Spokane Historical points out, historically the Spokane Tribe of Indians utilized Cliff Park’s peak […]

Liberty Park Pool Spokane

#4 Liberty Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Liberty Park is the 4th best park in Spokane for good reason. It’s the first park on the list that begins to incorporate larger acreages and more dynamic changes as you explore different spaces within it. Liberty Park is located a stone’s throw from downtown on Spokane’s lower eastside and has been the victim, in many ways, of large public works projects that have proved to fragment the neighborhood – namely Interstate 90. As a result, Liberty Park and the surrounding neighborhood have seen decades of decline. Although probably not the best place to visit alone […]

Upper Lincoln Park Spokane

#3 Lincoln Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – In lesser cities, Lincoln Park would be considered the crème-de-le-crème of the park system but, in Spokane, it is ranked third on the list of Spokane’s Best Parks. Bisected in half by a steep bluff that, in places, is a sheer cliff, the upper and lower halves of Lincoln Park are distinctly different environments. At roughly 51 acres, located in Spokane’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the famed Olmsted brothers recognized the value of Lincoln Park’s dramatic topography and designed a place that has unique flavors for all palettes. The park’s lower portion is a generally flat, tree-lined […]

Manito Park Duncan Gardens Spokane

#2 Manito Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Manito Park is so big and diverse, you’re gonna’ need a map. The heart of Spokane’s South Hill, it’s a tough call placing Manito at number two on Spokane’s Best Parks list. It’s more than just a recreational space, it’s a destination. And it’s more than just a destination, it’s what makes Spokane, Spokane. Without it, the City would be a lesser place. Although Manito Park does have several obvious hard boundaries (such as Grand Blvd.), much of it flows into and out of surrounding neighborhoods so seamlessly you hardly know when you’ve left. Dense tree-lined […]

Classic Spokane

#1 Riverfront Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Riverfront Park is Spokane’s best park. But don’t take my word for it, National Geographic recently ranked Riverfront Park as the third best park in all of America. Not bad, huh? It’s all about the waterfalls, which are aplenty, and provide for one of the most unique urban destinations in the world. How many major metros can boast waterfalls ripping through the core of their central city? Well, let’s count them: there’s Buffalo/Niagara, certainly America’s most famous waterfalls, but they’re not downtown. Greenville, South Carolina, has Falls’ Park, which is located downtown, and those waterfalls are […]

Spokane City Hall

Five Friendly Suggestions for Nadine Woodward

Life on the ragged edge. Moments and decisions when there are no maps, no models to follow because nobody has ever done it before – places without even a box to think outside of – are moments when you know you’re onto something special. The ragged edge doesn’t happen naturally. It flows from experts, those that have mastered their craft and traversed every detailed corner of their field. Upon mastery of your craft, you are then, and only then, allowed to bend (or openly break) generally accepted rules, like Cormac McCarthy not using quotation marks when he writes, or Jannett […]

Spokane, WA 2019

SpokanePlanner’s 2019 Election Endorsements

Listening to the perspectives of mayoral candidates and city council hopefuls is an exercise in keyword identification. It’s their deployment of keywords that suggest whether they’re qualified to run our city or if they’re nothing more than an empty vessel. For instance, when they don’t have a substantive answer on a subject, such as homelessness, the default talking point is “I’m going to form a task force….” Within the minds of the task force candidates, there’s not a challenge in Spokane that a task force can’t solve. If the task force candidates get elected, I sure do hope all these […]

Spokane Port District

Here’s How to Write Alternative Port District Legislation

Greater Spokane, Inc (GSI) intends to press our state legislature in the upcoming session to adopt legislation that will create an alternative port district for Spokane County. For those unaware of what port districts do within Washington State, they are (more or less) the premier economic development entities on a county by county basis. Spokane County does not have a port district, which is a significant disadvantage for us from an economic development perspective. If there’s going to be a push from GSI to forego voter approval of a Spokane County port district, as the law presently mandates, any legislation […]

Spokane Smoke Stacks

The New Economic Mirepoix

Economic development was once all about primary job attraction. Enticing large scale manufacturers or corporate offices is still a worthwhile exercise but those who profess primary job attraction as their number one economic development priority are those that have chosen to forego acknowledgment of larger economic forces at play. Consult any oracle, and they’ll tell you that 21st century economic development hinges on two simple ingredients, data and energy. Both intimately related, both easily broken down into industry sub-sectors, and both, happily, Spokane is flirting with from several different levels. Data and energy are the ingredients that will create the […]

Opportunity Zone Flow Chart

Who’s Leading Spokane’s Opportunity Zone Conversation?

From time to time projects arise that shine a spotlight on Spokane’s dysfunctional economic development environment. The last time the spotlight shone brightly was during Amazon’s HQ2 process. Now it’s shining again because there’s this new cool thing called Opportunity Zones and our leaders in economic development don’t know what they are, much less how to maximize their potential. It strikes me that if local tax dollars are going into an economic development organization then the least they can do is stay on the cutting edge of economic development tools as the feds or the state or local governments might […]

Spokane Masonic Temple

When It Comes to Creating Cities, Planners Are Better Than Architects

City planning is a field far-flung from architecture. It is mystifying to think that architects are more qualified to plan cities than, say, geographers, sociologists, or even civil engineers. Architecture is a peculiar field because it represents the marriage between empirical and subjective studies. If a building functions perfectly yet looks atrocious, has the architect failed or succeeded? Perhaps, because geographers, sociologists, and civil engineers do not get the luxury of subjective analysis per se, the architect can stake rightful claim as city planner. If we look closer, however, it is revealed the architect resides over an illusionary fiefdom. The […]

Spokane Tech

Three Simple Ways to Boost Spokane’s Tech Sector

Depending upon who you talk to, Spokane is either very close to or very far from connecting with the main stream tech economy. No matter your position on the topic, there are several tech-related economic development projects either in the works or simple enough to start that we can actively advance, as follows:   Become the Smartest City Around Here’s where the nay-sayers are wrong, because this ain’t no pipe-dream. Avista, Itron, and Urbanova are all very real innovators within the nascent smart-city sector. Itron just dropped $830 million to purchase a San Jose based smart-city competitor. When Spokane corporations […]

Downtown Spokane 2016

We Don’t Want to Be Seattle

“We don’t want to be Seattle,” say the naysayers who tend to be the same people against transit initiatives, walkability, and neighborhood revitalization efforts. We don’t want to be Seattle is one of those canaries for those who fear change and cling to their expo ’74 version of Spokane like a toddler with a blankie. We don’t want to be Seattle. We don’t want to engage with a 21st century market place. We don’t want 21st century diversity. We’re not hipsters. We refuse to recognize that Spokane is changing, that the world is changing. Nope, we prefer to be annoyed […]

Riverfront Park in Spokane has great trees.


That was a hell of a windstorm back in November. Gathering reports from various local news outlets, it’s estimated that the City of Spokane lost between 1,200 and 1,600 mature trees due to the storm. We also learned that the natural root structure of the Blue Spruce is shallow, over irrigating Ponderosa Pines makes them weaker, and the basalt formations of the South Hill don’t lend themselves well to burying power lines. (On this last point, however, it’s nothing a little creativity can’t solve.) Independent of the storm, one of Spokane’s best characteristics is the city’s tree canopy. Indeed, the […]

Downtown Spokane

Toward a 21st Century Spokane

What do prosperous, modern, mid-sized American metros look like? How do we carve a niche that’s different from our competitors? How does a mid-sized city like Spokane distinguish itself from the pack, be unique, be something that others are not? Spokane, for its part, has generally been stuck in a malaise of mediocrity since Expo-74 – our high-water mark in recent memory. For over 40 years, local folk have pointed to the transformative events of 1974 as the seminal marker in Spokane’s contemporary history. And they are right to do so. The bold decisions that led up to hosting an […]

Football Market Map

Measuring Spokane

Competition to attract growth between American cities is fierce. Economists have written that the game of industry recruitment that cities, counties, and states play is, ultimately, a zero sum game. I’d argue that if you’re on the winning or losing end of attracting investment, arithmetic matters, despite what scholars say. Spokane competes with other cities, as we know, and most of those cities are within our tier. Without getting too wonky, cities are easily categorized by the size and scope of their market reach. For instance, metro Spokane’s 2017 media market rank is 73rd in the nation. For some quick […]

How to Be Mayor

What Good Mayors Do

How to Be Mayor — A city’s mayor is its chief garbage person, pothole filler, sewer cleaner, and public safety officer. It’s a dirty job that requires pragmatism, coalition building, common sense, and leadership. If you were to ask Benjamin Barber about what traits all successful mayors share, I suspect he would cite the four common traits he wrote about in his 2013 book, If Mayors Ruled the World, which are as follows: “[1] A strong personality marked by both hubris and humor. [2] A pragmatic approach to governing. [3] Personal engagement in city affairs. [and 4] Commitment to the city as […]

Downtown Spokane Sunset

Spokane’s Most Photogenic Images

Capturing The Essence Of Urban Spokane — These are the pictures that shape Spokane’s urban image, our best face.   The View from Cliff Drive   Gondolas from Post Street Bridge   View of the Falls from Monroe Street Bridge   Another View of the Falls from Atop Monroe Street Bridge   View of Downtown from Kendall Yards   Clock Tower and Pavilion in Riverfront Park   Looking Down Post Street to River Park Square   Descending Sunset Hill into Downtown

Russell Senate Office Building Hallway

Creating a Competitive Advantage

There are a lot of long and solemn hallways in Washington, DC. How best to navigate them is a learning experience for everyone, particularly elected officials. Annually, our local non-profits and governmental jurisdictions journey to the hallways of DC to lobby for their respective projects or policies. And so it comes to pass a bill that was recently introduced in the Senate’s Finance Committee called the Promise Zone Job Creation Act of 2017. Don’t look now, but Congress is considering creation of a new economic development tool that will give Spokane leverage over the competition. There are only 22 Promise […]

North Monroe Spokane

Popcorn Shrimp

The owner of Skippers on north Monroe is leading a rebellion. The city intends to expend about $7 million in streetscape beautification improvements on the street in front of his business and Gary Jarvis doesn’t want the investment, thank you very much. As The Spokesman Review reported, Jarvis fervently made his case to the public by arguing, “’It’s ill conceived,’ Jarvis said of the ‘road diet’ plan. ‘It’s not going to bring business to the area … It’s just a yuppie thing.’” Thus, we have ourselves three declarative statements against investing $7 million to beautify north Monroe. It’s ill conceived; […]

Spokane Way-Finding Signage - 2016

A Few Cheap and Easy Ways to Improve Spokane

Urban Tactics — The suggestions that follow don’t require years of planning and consensus building; they don’t require marshaling millions of tax dollars, fundraising, or special assessments; and they don’t require tax increases, public hearings, and recommendations for approval from civic stakeholders. These are everyday improvements that simply require a few rank and file municipal professionals, a small pot of money, and the will to get it done. Details matter. Unto themselves, none of these suggestions are catalytic. Taken together, however, Spokane changes for the better.   Beautify the Ugly Traffic Islands You’ve seen them before. They’re all over town. Dozens […]

Inside the Pavilion

What Prosperous 21st Century Cities Do

1) Be the Big City — I suspect we all agree, Spokane has opportunities for improvement. Understanding what we are as a product and acknowledging what we can do to improve it is a big step toward doing just that. We’re the big dog, the central city. Others in the metro can be the best suburban products they can be. The City of Spokane, however, has an obligation to be the best urban product it can be. Where some might argue: “We like Spokane just as it is. There’s no reason to grow into Seattle or Portland.” I would argue […]

Mayor Condon

Mayor Condon’s Biggest Blunders

Four years ago Mayor David Condon swept into city hall aiming to instill a degree of business savvy and trim some fat from local government. The youngest of a large family of boys was now in a position to prove his quality, if not for himself certainly for his father and older brothers. Mayor Condon was born connected to Spokane’s old money culture, and he was appropriately groomed via Cataldo and Gonzaga Prep. His family’s mansion on Sumner Avenue was amongst the largest on the street, and conveniently located next door to some of Spokane’s oldest money, otherwise known as […]

GSI Todd Mielke, the protector of the realm

The Best Magic Act in Town

GSI And The Art Of Illusion — I’m 37. I spent the first 18 years of my life trying to get out of Spokane and the next 18 trying to get back in. This town has a tendency to do that to people. Now, when I look around, I see a large group of us, back home, all hungry for change, and eager to transform Spokane into a 21st century city. But you don’t need to be born and raised to see Spokane’s largely squandered potential. Newcomers can see it, too, and they tend to be all the more confused […]

Spokane City Hall

The Loneliest Floor in City Hall

The seventh floor of City Hall is an increasingly lonely place. How did Mayor Condon get into this mess? He’s neck-deep in scandal with his head corked-back just trying keep his nose above water. Like an episode of Lost, the more you watch the more questions you have. Without a doubt, Condon is in trouble. The best sideways compliment you can say at this point is: “at least he was smart enough to cover it up until after the election.” Because of that, he’s still got a puncher’s chance. The question is, at the risk of mixing cultural metaphors, are […]

GSI Membership

10 Reasons to Drop Your GSI Membership

There’s a few loose threads on the security blanket that covers Spokane’s economic development environment. Some people have noticed it before, and perhaps even have come so close as to rub the tip of their finger against one. Everybody sees it, the loose threads, and yet getting out from under the warmth and comfort of the blanket is too much of a risk despite all the loose ends. What those loose threads need is someone just reckless enough to take a tug. You know as well as I do, we both want to see what happens when it unravels. Like […]

Spokane Economic Development

Grading Spokane’s Economic Development Performance

Economic development theories evolve nearly as quickly as the market. Local economic development organizations, therefore, also must evolve in an effort to consistently be at the forefront of economic development practice. Spokane’s performance toward this end has room for improvement. Many eras within the field have been largely discredited and replaced with healthier alternatives. Metro Spokane, however, still clings to several outdated models that cities of the future have long since dismissed. Below are all the broader economic development models tested and practiced by cities and counties throughout the nation. Of course, it’s difficult to capture them all, particularly smaller […]

Spokane's Best Neighborhoods

9 Ways to Improve Spokane’s Economic Health

Nine Simple Economic Development Strategies to Improve Spokane — Below is a simple economic development plan for the City of Spokane and, indeed, for the metro. A few items on the list may perhaps be challenging to implement. Nonetheless, it’s nothing a little verve and creativity can’t solve.   1: Dispel with the notion that fundraising, grant writing, and advocating for special appropriations is economic development. This one generally speaks for itself. I know I’ve said this in a previous posting, but fundraising, grant writing, and generally asking other people for money is not an economic development strategy; to the contrary, it’s […]

Spokane Smokestacks

Spokane Smokestacks

These twin smokestacks are a prominent part of Spokane’s skyline. Once an operating steam plant that provided heat for the bulk of downtown, the operation was abandoned several decades back and the structure remained vacant and dilapidated until local developers revitalized the building. Today, an array of hipster tenants occupy the structure, known as Steam Plant Square. Picture taken June, 2004.

BEA Trading Areas

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle – The Boise State University football program has a lot in common with Gonzaga University men’s basketball program. Both programs suffered from decades of quiet, mediocre teams before bursting into the national sports psyche forcing east-coast-biased pundits to reorient their perspectives a bit more westerly. Ian Johnson’s Statue of Liberty, trick play, two-point conversation to win the 2007 Fiesta Bowl did just as much for the Boise area as Casey Calvary’s tip-in with four seconds remaining to beat Florida and advance to the Elite-8 in the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Boise State football is to the […]

Pacific Street, Spokane

Ever Pubescent Spokane

Ever Pubescent Spokane – Let’s begin our journey by developing an understanding of Spokane as a product. Ask different people and they’ll have different perspectives on how best to market the metro. Understandably, “Near Nature, Near Perfect” was a logical choice for a regional slogan. Somewhat ironically, it was the urban advocate Downtown Spokane Partnership who trail-blazed the consensus building process around a new slogan in the early 2000s. According to an article in the Seattle Times that explained why boosters changed from the long-standing “Lilac City” to a slogan that attempts to accentuate Spokane’s natural amenities, “The city of nearly 200,000 could […]

Spokane Politics

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class – There are precious few reasons why Spokane should not be considered one of the premier cities in the nation, and recognized throughout as such—a magnet for innovative, entrepreneurial individuals seeking a higher quality of life in an environment, both urban and natural, where all their needs are met. Instead, those who live outside the orbit of the Northwest only have a vague notion of where Spokane is, how big we are, and what we have to offer. We may perhaps be the most obscure city in America. Where, exactly, is Spokane? Far flung, indeed, by […]

SpokanePlanner 2016