Spokane’s university presence is synonymous with Gonzaga’s basketball fame. But there are many other universities trying to take their place as downtown powerhouses in Spokane’s economic future: Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, and Whitworth University are the largest stakeholders at the Riverpoint campus. So, how are things changing for this conglomerate of satellite campuses?
The University District Development Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was created to implement the 2004 University District Strategic Master Plan. The master plan includes the major project of constructing a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over a collector arterial, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the BNSF railway, and future right-of-way set aside for future light rail (which has yet to be planned for).
This bridge will connect the Riverpoint campus to the South end of the University District. The South end of the district has seen much disservice from the City of Spokane in recent decades. The area shows a great need for redevelopment that is relevant to its location in the University District, otherwise business owners may see their pride and joy go into the red for good.
The Master Plan also determines the need for affordable housing and a variety of retail, and dining options in the area to keep students in the district, regardless of the time of day. Currently, there are no walkable dining options on the Riverpoint campus that aren’t run through Washington State University and a catering contract. There is also virtually no affordable housing for Riverpoint students in the district.
Spokane’s University District has a lot of growing up to do and it must be in sync with the Downtown core in order for both areas to be successful in the future.
Does your city have a University District? What are the shortfalls and opportunities for the area?
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