Centers and Corridors Study

Project Overview

The Centers and Corridors Update Study project will assess the effectiveness of Centers and Corridors, a focused growth land use policy and zoning approach in the City of Spokane. The study will provide recommendations to update or change this growth strategy during the 2026 Comprehensive Plan Periodic Update.

A team of consultants will lead this study and provide recommendations to inform updates to the comprehensive plan policies, development regulations, and design guidelines to ensure Centers and Corridors can adapt to current and future goals of the City. Recommendations will be based on high-level market research that grounds Centers and Corridors in feasible development options for Spokane.

The project began in Spring of 2023 and is expected to be completed by Summer of 2024.

Centers and Corridors Timeline

Project Updates

Plan Commission: Market Analysis and Initial Recommendations Overview – November 8, 2023
City staff and consultants conducted an initial workshop to discuss with the Plan Commission the outcomes of the market analysis and initial findings in the Comprehensive Plan, Development Regulations, and Design Standards recommendations.

Project Scope

City Planning will work with a consultant team to review comprehensive plan policies, development regulations. Major project components include:

  • Review comprehensive plan policies, development regulations, and design guidelines to assess effectiveness of Center and Corridor zoning and recommend changes.
  • Assess Center and Corridor typologies and locations and ensure they fit within anticipated growth and market needs.
  • Identify market trends and economic feasibility for creating dense mixed-use land use patterns that incentivize transit-oriented development.

The project will build on previous planning efforts and include feedback from current residents and community members, businesses, institutional and organizational stakeholders, investors, and agency partners.

What are Centers and Corridors?

Center and Corridor land use policies promote the efficient use of land by promoting density and mixed-use development in proximity to retail businesses, public services, places of work, and transportation systems. It is a strategy that directs growth to areas where adequate services and facilities are available. There are five different Center designations:

  1. Neighborhood Centers: Neighborhood Centers have a greater intensity of development than the surrounding residential areas. Businesses primarily cater to neighborhood residents in the form of convenience and service businesses. Density of housing supports frequent transit and neighborhood businesses. Buildings orient to the street to allow for a more inviting pedestrian environment and the layout of buildings should promote active modes of transportation.
  2. District Centers: District Centers resemble Neighborhood Centers but allow for a greater intensity of all uses. District Centers serve a large portion of the surrounding neighborhoods and include gathering spaces, civic centers, large retail and housing areas as part of a major activity hub. Buildings orient to the street and pedestrian access is vital to the surrounding residential areas. This center has frequent transit service, walkways, and bicycle paths.
  3. Employment Centers: Employment Centers allow similar intensities of all use types as Neighborhood and District Centers, but include a strong, non-service oriented, employment component.
  4. Corridors: Corridors, the connection between Centers and the Downtown, allow higher intensities of all use types. They resemble District and Neighborhood Centers, but with a greater focus on improving the street network to allow people to move from one Center to the next via multiple modes of transportation.
  5. Regional Center: Downtown Spokane is the only Regional Center and is the hub for shopping, dining, arts and culture, entertainment, and academics across the region.

Background

Center and Corridor land use policy was adopted in 2001 following a public outreach process called Spokane Horizons. Associated land use policies were implemented in December 2005.

The Spokane Horizons process surveyed thousands of community members across Spokane. The survey was titled: “50,000 people are coming to dinner… and they’re staying the night!” Two long-form questions asked:

  1. What do you really love about Spokane? What should we be sure to keep, even as we grow?
  2. Think about 50,000 more people living in our city. What changes are you concerned about or looking forward to with this growth? How do you feel this growth will affect the things that you like and want to keep?

Horizons considered three growth alternatives: Business as Usual (no change), Focused Growth: Central City, and Focused Growth: Mixed-Use Center and Corridor. Through community engagement, the survey, and growth analysis, the “Focused Growth: Mixed-Use Center and Corridor” strategy was identified as the preferred alternative.

The Ahwahnee Principles, which emphasize sustainable urban planning practices that incorporate a mix of uses, compactness, walkable, and transit-oriented developments, were foundational to the vision and goals of the Center and Corridor strategy. Center and Corridor designations are based on Community Principle 7: “the community should have a center focus that combines commercial, civic, cultural and recreation uses.”

Where are Centers and Corridors?

The City of Spokane’s Comprehensive Plan, most recently updated in 2015, designates a number of Centers and Corridors throughout the City, as shown in the interactive map linked below.