Jessica Fisher, Public Information Assistant, 509.625.6749
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 4:36 p.m.
Hillyard remains one of Spokane’s most financially distressed neighborhoods, but it wasn’t always that way. Hillyard and the rail line that so visibly runs adjacent to N. Market Street were major economic drivers in the region thought the mid-1900s. As economic, manufacturing, and transportation structures shifted to other areas, the Hillyard railyard and its relevance declined. By 1982, all the rail facilities had been decommissioned and the industrial land that once brought our nation the largest and most powerful steam engines of their time was left, in large part, to deteriorate. While the area has seen more than three decades of stagnation, area residents and business leaders are resilient, proud of local rail history and committed to bringing prosperity back to the Spokane’s Northeast.
Community groups, individuals, business leaders and their organizations are hard at work on a variety of fronts – from reinvigorating manufacturing in East Hillyard to development of new housing at Beacon Hill and elsewhere. The school district is poised to invest in high-quality education for the future and WSDOT has made a commitment to working with area stakeholders on Creative Placemaking around the North Spokane Corridor, currently under construction. As a partner to these revitalization efforts, the City of Spokane has invested public dollars in the rebuilding North Market Street from Wellesley to Joseph Avenues, provided funding and support for the development of the Greater Hillyard Northeast Planning Alliance (GHNEPA) neighborhood plan, is actively working with area stakeholders to implement community priorities, and is financially assisting the Zone Project. In 2011 the City authorized the Northeast Public Development Authority – charged with investment in infrastructure, economic and land development to create business and job opportunities – and identified the industrial area in East Hillyard now known as The YARD as one of the City’s six Target Investment Areas under the City’s Economic Development Strategy in 2015.
The YARD holds great promise for industrial expansion, job creation and a host of quality of life improvements over the next twenty years. Of The YARD’s 800+ acres, over 500 acres are zoned for heavy and light industrial uses and a large portion of this is vacant or underutilized. As a result, The Yard could see over 1.8 Million square feet of new industrial/manufacturing facilities constructed through 2050 under a moderate growth scenario. This would equate to 2,400 new living wage jobs during the same period (assuming one new employee for every 750 square feet of development).
The recently developed YARD Redevelopment Master Plan provides a roadmap for public infrastructure investments in the YARD. The NEPDA is working with the Spokane City Council and the City Administration to implement priority infrastructure projects alongside other projects seen as necessary to spur private investment. This past summer Freya received maintenance between Wellesley and Rowan Streets as a temporary measure in advance of a rebuild project between Garland and Francis which is included in the City’s 2018-2023 Six Year Comprehensive Streets Program (design and reconstruction projected for 2022 and 2023). Prospects are also good for additional public investment along Wellesley Avenue: Spokane City Council Member Mike Fagan has drafted a resolution that would ensure the inclusion of street improvements along Wellesley Avenue (between Freya and Havana) in the City’s 2019-2024 Six Year Comprehensive Streets Program. This project would connect improvements planned by WSDOT along Wellesley Avenue between North Market Street and Freya and private development plans to realign Valley Springs Road to Havana Street.
The NEPDA is also seeking to fill two recently-vacated board positions. One board position is open for someone with a professional background in management, promotion/advertising, outreach, economic/community development, industrial development, site selection – this person should have a strong professional network that includes interaction with both public and private enterprise. The other position will be filled by someone with strong ties to the Greater Hillyard community and Spokane’s northeast. This person will be a community member with multiple connections to the community and business organizations such as neighborhood councils, nonprofits, etc. An ideal candidate will be very active within the community and have a strong understanding of the Greater Hillyard plans and redevelopment desires. Additional experience with community and economic development and outreach will be very helpful.
If you would like to be part of the area’s revitalization and have expertise to lend to this effort, the NEPDA board members want to hear from you! Please contact Melissa Owen, the economic development area expert for The YARD and staff assist to the NEPDA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 509.625.6063.
Those interested in development within The YARD are also encouraged to contact Melissa. She can assist you with questions related to local incentives and connect you with experts who will coordinate with you and the City of Spokane to take advantage of state and federal incentives.