Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods –
Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10
Predominant Housing Prices:
Ownership: About $225,000
Rentals: About $1,000
Housing Density: Light to moderate
Mixed Use Rating: Good, due to its proximity to downtown
Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Description
If this were a list of Spokane's coolest neighborhoods, or most unique neighborhoods, Peaceful Valley would be ranked number one on both counts. Peaceful Valley brims with character due to its historic value and the natural and man-made features that surround it. Peaceful Valley is located at the bottom of the Spokane River George just west of downtown. Surrounded on all sides by natural boundaries, steep bluffs tower above the neighborhood while the Spokane River and Latah Creek round out the edges. Due to its geography, Peaceful Valley’s location uniquely accomplishes the normally paradoxical goals of being somewhat isolated yet only a short walk to the heart of Spokane. Of all of Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods, Peaceful Valley is probably the most distinct.
Elements that Create Great Neighborhoods
An Identifiable Center
Peaceful Valley is a long and narrow neighborhood that straddles the Spokane River. In part because of its physical geography, and in part due to its proximity to downtown, Peaceful Valley does not really have an identifiable center. One could make an argument, however, that Peaceful Valley Park establishes the neighborhood’s center.
Peaceful Valley has the most distinct boundaries of all of Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods. Surrounded by steep bluffs on two sides, and the Spokane River / Latah Creek on the other two, the distinction between Peaceful Valley and its surrounding neighborhoods is quite clear.
A Front Door
Main Avenue is the primary access down into Peaceful Valley. There is no front door welcoming the visitor to the neighborhood – a factor ripe for improvement, to be sure.
Mixed Land Uses
Aside from mixing single family and multi-family homes, neighborhood commercial amenities are few. However, downtown is a quick walk up the hill. Otherwise, Peaceful Valley does a great job if mixing recreational uses. Natural areas along the River and Latah Creek, as well as a manicured park anchor the neighborhood.
Although largely a residential neighborhood, Peaceful Valley has a respectable array of architectural styles. Larger, historic homes interact well with smaller homes, and multi-family complexes mix well into the neighborhood.
Buildings that Address the Street
Peaceful Valley does well engaging the street. Although some homes and larger developments are isolated from the street, most structures add to the streetscape rather than subtract.
Streets that Generally Connect
Peaceful Valley will have a hard time with this one due to its constricted geography. Interestingly enough, the neighborhood’s founding fathers did try to incorporate a grid street pattern into early subdivisions. Trouble is most streets simply dead-end at the river or the bluff embankment.
Peaceful Valley is a mix of detached and attached sidewalks.
Uniform street trees are somewhat sparse in Peaceful Valley. However, there is generally a mature canopy of trees in the neighborhood. Additionally, much is gained given Peaceful Valley’s direct access to natural amenities.
The neighborhood’s walkability is outstanding. Could you live in Peaceful Valley without a car? Yep, no problem.
Peaceful Valley’s biggest challenge is lack of developable space. On the upside, many within the neighborhood prefer it remain largely as is. However, given its proximity to downtown, development pressures have come and gone over the years. Avoiding a blanket NIMBY approach toward higher density developments – either in the neighborhood or adjacent to it – by coalescing around smart growth strategies, including adding density, will ensure a win-win for the neighborhood and the City.
A less significant challenge is consideration of a front door. Peaceful Valley residents may consider lobbying the City for a few dollars to construct an appropriate front door into the neighborhood.
(Featured photo courtesy of Ed Suominen)