By Richard White, October 11, 2013
Spokane's South Perry Street has evolved into a fun, funky and quirky urban village with its Thursday market being the kick-off to the community's weekend. However, I am told that The Shop was the catalyst for Spokane's hipsters to settle the community and create what is quickly becoming a vibrant hipster playground. While the Thursday Market has put the community on the map, it was The Shop which started out as a "coffee shop" but has morphed into the coffee shop by day and bar by night that was the catalyst for the communities revitalization.
The parking lot in front of The Shop is where the 20 or so vendors pitch their tents every Thursday for the happy hour market that attracts hundreds of locals of all ages and backgrounds. The Shop parking lot has become the town square hosting numerous other events like Outdoor Summer Theatre, Tomato Festival and Harvest Festival. I love the fact that the parking lot has organically evolved into a temporary programming space for the community without the need to hire a consultant to develop a master plan based on numerous community meetings and that millions weren't spent on redesigning it. The parking lot works just fine to host events when the time is right and then at other times it can be a parking lot which is also needed more and more as the street expands.
South Perry Street has a wonderful diversity of small shops, from Yoga Studio to Windfall Thrift store, from Him & Her Vintage Furniture to a Windmill building that sells over 1,000 herbs. Coming soon is South Perry Street's own craft brewery. It even has a Buddhist Temple which is home to the Spokane Oban Festival. Jane Jacobs the 1960s guru of community vitality who preached the importance of preserving the small local mom and pop shopping streets would have loved South Perry.
Creating pedestrian friendly streets is not about designer sidewalks and furniture with custom lamp posts. It is about shops that cater to the everyday needs of the people who live in the neighbourhood. South Perry is home to a dentist, therapeutic massage and veterinary clinic. There is also a school backing on to the street. Creating animated pedestrian streets is as much about the diversity of things to do as it about the density of people living there.