August 15 2012

Kendall Yards: The Last Piece to Spokane’s Urban Puzzle

Kendall Yards Master Plan

Kendall Yards is a 77-acre strip of modernly undeveloped land sandwiched between Spokane, Washington’s West Central neighborhood and the Northern bank of the Spokane River below Spokane Falls. Locals claim that it was (it is now being developed as I type) the largest contiguous piece of undeveloped designated “downtown core” land in a regional city in the country, though that is largely unverifiable.

The goal of Kendall Yards is to become the regional example for mixed-use development; retail, office, grocery, restaurants, a spa (stolen from the city’s premiere luxury downtown historic hotel, no less), apartments, and single family homes will all have a place in Kendall Yards. Both high and low-income housing options are to be offered through a Multifamily Property Tax Abatement for those in the latter tax bracket. Though, it should be noted that the area is not zoned for mixed use, but rather a conservative attempt with only the skinny Eastern tip zoned for “Community Business” and the rest as “Residential Multi-Family.”

This is Spokane’s first fully-functioning multi-use development created by a single developer (Greenstone) in the city-designated “Urban Core. It is controversial in the local planning community due to its watered-down nature as of 2009. To residents in West Central, the development is feared because residents feel as though they will be victims of gentrification, as the development area is the most crime-ridden and one of the lowest-income neighborhoods in Spokane; and about to receive some of the most expensive urban housing in Spokane – probably against their will. To those who live in the “true,” existing downtown core South of the Spokane River, they feel it a threat to their land value as future development may creep Northwards along the Monroe Street corridor.

To learn more about the history and future of Kendall Yards, certainly go to The Spokesman-Review‘s topic page, providing a summary of the situation and full access to all 100 articles they have written on the project dating back to 2004.

Why do you think Kendall Yards was left undeveloped for so long? Can you think of a better use for the land?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Aascot Holt

Aascot Holt is an undergraduate at Eastern Washington University, pursuing a major in Urban and Regional Planning and a minor in Geography. She will graduate in the spring of 2013. She is from Stevenson, WA and currently lives in Spokane, WA in a brick 1936 kit house. She is most intrigued by small-city and small town planning, parks and recreation planning, long-range planning, and historic preservation. She hopes to continue her habit of being involved with many planning projects at a time, and fears being pigeonholed. Aascot maintains the “Being A Planning Student” Tumblr as well as her planning-centric blog, The Comprehensive. She is currently writing Cheney, WA’s entirely new comprehensive parks, recreation, and trails plan, completely pro bono. More can be learned about her endeavors via LinkedIn.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 5:57 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Content, Environmental Design, Housing, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


6 Responses to “Kendall Yards: The Last Piece to Spokane’s Urban Puzzle”

  1. Anna Vamvakias Says:

    The locals have good reason to fear gentrification as most of these homes are not financially within reach of many of the West central folks.

    A very good synopsis of this project that has moved along in fits and starts since its inception.

  2. Aascot Holt Says:

    Indeed! Thank you, Anna.

  3. Linda Finney Says:

    What was on the Kendall Yards site before the development project started? Was it a rail yard? Were
    there ever farms there?

  4. Aascot Holt Says:


    Thank you for your question!

    As far as I know, prior to its residential development, Kendall Yards was half-cleaned, overgrown abandoned industrial land. It was an odd case of land use limbo that nobody was interested in taking responsibility for and investing in for some time.

    Kendall Yards does have a history as a rail yard. Please see this link for a comprehensive history since the early 1900s:

    Due to the way Spokane developed over the past hundred years or so, I wouldn’t say it’d be a stretch to imagine the area utilized for self-sustenance gardening, which would be a sizable garden that only serves its owners’ needs without the aspirations of selling the crop. However, because of the condition of the soil underneath the area, combined with its relatively low place in the valley, I highly doubt it would be viable for commercial agriculture use.

    Here’s a link to the manuscript of the 1921 Spokane County soil survey I used to come to that conclusion, if you’re interested:

    Thank you again, and have a great new year!

    Best wishes,
    Aascot Holt

  5. Kendall Yards: Will It Blend? | Sage Digs Says:

    […] 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 […]

  6. Scotty Reed Says:

    Great article! My group in PADM 501 is doing a presentation on gentrification in Spokane. We tied in a little bit about Kendall Yards into our work.

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