January 21 2013

Gonzaga University’s Influence on Spokane’s Planning Future

Gonzaga University (GU) has been in the same location across the river from downtown Spokane since its opening in 1887. GU is within a 20-minute walk from downtown, and maintains a balanced mix of park-like campus setting with just a few urban touches thrown in. Gonzaga University has grown and evolved with the city, and will soon begin to mold Spokane as the downtown core continues to lose momentum.

The progress made on the GU mixed use parking garage as of January, 2013.

The university is accomplishing something the city failed to do decades ago: build a parking garage utilizing multiple sources to finance the construction and come out in the black. GU’s new parking garage is progressive for Spokane because it’s the first mixed-use parking garage outside of the downtown core. The parking garage will house a new 16,000 square foot bookstore and have an additional 20,000 square feet of rentable retail space on the first floor. The rentable space faces Hamilton Street, a major arterial. There will be 650 parking spaces in total. The project is also striving for LEED certification upon completion.

As discussed in my past article, “The Future of Spokane’s Cooperative Downtown University Campus,” the conglomeration of satellite campuses across the river from Gonzaga are without housing opportunities – university-backed or private. GU is transforming itself gradually into what the area really needs it to be: an urban campus. The university is responding with multiple housing opportunities, including apartments on- and off-campus. The university supports six apartment buildings on campus in addition to their seventeen small, community-centered dormitories. Off campus, the university owns twenty-six rental and theme houses (mostly old converted single-family homes) and four apartment buildings, all located in the Logan neighborhood, which is adjacent to GU’s campus.

One of the many University-owned housing options on campus, with secured parking available on the first floor.

GU seems to have their own ideas about how the future looks. I compared a few key words in both the Spokane University District’s master plan (approved 2004) and GU’s most recent strategic plan (approved 2007). GU makes no mention of its supposed partner, whereas the University District’s plan mentions Gonzaga University eighty-four times. “Local” appears just twice in Gonzaga’s plan, while the University District uses it thirty-seven times. “Spokane” shows up in the University District’s master plan 271 times, while Gonzaga uses the word only once. I think this shows a lot about each organization’s attitude towards their situation, and even more about their relationship with one another. Will GU work with the U District in the future, or will GU continue to consider itself separate from Spokane and the city’s created planning bodies? It’s tough to call for now.

What disconnects do you see in your city’s major planning players? Are they as obvious as these, or must you be a local to know? Spread the knowledge in the comments below!

Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Aascot Holt.

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 Monday, January 21st, 2013 at 9:35 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Education and Careers, Government/Politics, 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.

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