SPOKANE, Wash. — It's been another year of growth here in the Inland Northwest and KREM 2 News is dedicated to digging deeper and bringing you more on all the changes.
In our Boomtown series we examine major projects and changes as our region continues to grow.
The I-90 and State Highway 41 interchange in Post Falls is getting a major facelift. Construction began on the mega project this summer and is expected to last a couple of years.
Once work is complete, the interchange will be shifted from Seltice to just north of I-90.
The booming population in the Inland Northwest has led to increased housing prices. Some families, struggling to keep up with the costs, are turning to RVs as a last resort.
“My RV. This is my place of living,” Chris Bill told us. “Hopefully, we’re not in this situation for long.”
After losing their jobs and falling behind on rent, Chris and his girlfriend moved into an RV. Chris said it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing.
“There’s just not too many places or options,” he said. “It can be difficult, disappointing. But [we’re] goal oriented. We’ll be back there, back on our feet, in no time.”
Post Falls, Idaho has traditionally been seen as a town people pass through, whether on the way to Spokane or Coeur d’Alene. But lately, more people are making the border town a permanent stop.
Post Falls’ population has grown to almost 40,000 residents at the 2020 census count. Now, longtime Post Falls locals are having to adjust to the growing population.
Red tape and city code haven't made it easy for work on the McKinley School to begin. But now progress at the historic school building is in sight.
In March, Spokane City Council approved a 12-year multi-family housing property tax exemption for the property. It's a tool the city uses to attract developers to build more housing units in Spokane.
According to the city, the McKinley Apartments will include 22 units in four buildings. Under the 12-year tax exemption agreement, 20% of the units must be set aside for low and moderate-income tenants.
The master-planned community on 610 acres at Lancaster Road and north Government Way will one day boast more than 1,500 homes, ranging from townhouses and cottages to neighborhood homes and manor estates. Two and a half dwelling units will be allowed per acre.
One impact of rising costs here in the Inland Northwest has been an increase in homelessness.
KREM 2 News followed the money to figure out how much money is being spent on homelessness, from encampment cleanups on state rights of way to disagreements between local non-profits and city leaders about how to use available funds.
Since it was constructed in the 1960s, I-90 hasn't changed much: two lanes going east and west with 60,000 cars, trucks and semis every day.
As traffic volume continues to increase between the Washington state line and Coeur d'Alene, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is looking for ways to improve Interstate 90, which could include adding a third lane.
In May, Spokane had the highest rent increases in the state of Washington and is in the top three for highest rent spikes nationwide. The Ball family in Spokane Valley is just one of many families struggling to keep up with the growing rental rates.
The Balls moved to their house in Spokane Valley in March 2020 from Kentucky. They moved to Spokane thinking it would be an affordable option.
That quickly changed.
Imagine getting from Wandemere to I-90 in 12 minutes.
That's the promise of the North/South Freeway, an idea first conceived in the 1940s, a project that broke ground in 2001 and a corridor that, to this day, is still not finished.
It's a fact that's become a popular punchline.
"You know, I like to reference it as a mythical unicorn, but it's going to come to fruition," WSDOT Communications Manager Ryan Overton said. "We're going to see the fruits of the labor and it finally connects to I-90."
Overton says the freeway should be finished by 2028. That's the latest estimate, at least.
According to Moody's Analytics, as reported by Fortune Magazine, they're forecasting Spokane is in the top five markets for housing price drops, with a forecasted drop of 5.22% for 2023 and a 4.11% drop for 2024.
The recent spike in mortgage interest rates is expected to be a part of the equation for the shift, but buyer fatigue could also be an issue.
Bonus 5 Stories
- "We're just forfeiting a profit for now": Coeur d'Alene gas station has lowest prices in town
- South Hill Chick-fil-A proposal rejected
- The New York Times portrays Spokane's housing crisis
- Garage Lodge to bring a new kind of storage facility to Spokane
- Construction work picks up on Downtown Spokane Stadium