There are 12,658 parking spaces and 74 parking lots in Spokane’s core, according to the Spokesman-Review’s Getting There column in today’s paper. About 80 percent of those are off-street parking in private owned lots and garages. With a new emphasis on place making and using land for more versatile uses though, many of those lots may go away in the future. Possibly sooner rather than later, thanks to a new plan hatched by the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) that offers developers a 10-year break from taxes on any project they build on what is now a surface parking lot.
The proposal must still be approved by the state Legislature, but Andrew Rowles with the DSP and Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart have started the process, talking to a handful of state legislators, including Spokane Democrats Sen. Andy Billig, Rep. Timm Ormsby and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, as well as Spokane-area Republicans, Sen. Mike Padden, Rep. Bob McCaslin Jr. and Rep. Mike Volz.
The proposal is part of the Greater Spokane Incorporated legislative agenda, also and will lobbied for in Olympia.
Supporters say that new businesses could go on those lots, making for a more diverse and vibrant downtown while encouraging commuters who drive alone to find other ways to get to school or work, such as riding the bus, carpooling, walking or bicycling. Because cars are immobile 95% of the time, the thinking is that parking lots aren’t a good use for property.
An average of 58 percent of downtown parking spaces are taken. With nearly 300 acres of surface parking in the city core, that equates to a lot of empty paved space – about 6,000 empty parking spots worth.