Possible Spokane River access at Convention Center

Last April, voters approved the Public Facilities District’s $65 million dollar project that includes developing 91,000 square feet of new space at the Spokane Convention Center. River access is part of the plan.

At their December 12th public meeting, questions and comments were taken as part of applying for a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit. Planned actions include demolishing the former Shenanigan’s restaurant and removing the parking lot; shoreline improvements, Centennial Trail improvements, and development of a river access beneath the Division Street Bridge. Click here to see renderings.

Avista, Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, Futurewise, Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane River Forum and Northwest Whitewater Association have provided comment letters to the Public Facilities District.  “In general, everyone is excited about the project and the opportunities that it will bring to Spokane visitors and Riverfront Park users,” said Andy Dunau, the Forum’s Executive Director. “But the devil is in the details.” Click here to read the letters.

User groups are concerned about public access, particularly the loss of parking and a loading/unloading area to access the Centennial Trail and prospective river access.  Other concerns include desires for a public restroom, public drinking fountain, opportunities for food and recreation concessions, and on-going trail maintenance, especially in the winter when it will be further shaded from the sun.

River access is most likely to occur beneath Division Street Bridge. By city ordinance, boating is not allowed downstream of the bridge.  As such, we will all need to work together to ensure the access site is safe for all who use it, given its location relative to Avista’s Upper Falls Dam.

The Forum is working with user groups to continue providing comments and hopefully assist the design and build team. Said Dunau, “At the end of the day we want to assure the community gets the greatest possible shoreline, trail and river access benefits possible and that the Convention Center becomes a focal point at the eastern edge of Riverfront Park for visitors and park users alike.” In January, three design and build teams were selected to compete for development of this project. An award is expected in April. If all goes well, the project will be completed in the spring of 2015.