Spokane Valley’s Sprague Avenue Wasteland

Sprague Avenue is the main retail arterial running west to east in the Spokane Valley.

A long time ago, this was once a main road through the valley.

Today, the west end is “auto row”, where numerous business have failed during the current Depression. The east end was a mish mash of mostly retail businesses, many of which have failed.

Along Argonne, Mullan and now Sprague, you probably see a For Sale or For Lease sign every 300 feet down both sides of these roads.

This photo shows what a long time ago was a set of movie theaters. But set too far back from the road for retail, it was empty for a long timer after the movie theaters failed.  But it finally became home to a church group and a church related youth center. I was surprised to find that this building is now for sale. This photo was taken early afternoon on a week day – it really is this empty.

The unfortunately named Opportunity Center at Sprague and Pines. At the very far right, there is a restaurant that is still in business. Everything else is empty until the Napa Auto parts at left. But then there are more empty store fronts down to the left and out of view. Perhaps 75% of the shopping strip mall is vacant.

Jo Ann Fabrics moved from here to the abandoned Circuit City building, elsewhere in town. (Circuit City went bankrupt.). Rite-Aid, another big tenant here, bought the street corner across the street, tore down those buildings (which had actual businesses in them at the time!) and put in a new Rite-Aid store, moving out of Opportunity Center. Rite-Aid’s stock has been trading under $1 for some time (which means de-listing from the stock exchange eventually) and some analysts think the company will be bought out or go under.

The Yoke’s Grocery Store on Sprague has closed. I do not remember what business was at the edge of the parking lot – it too is empty and for rent. The Dollar Store next door is also closed and empty now.

All that is left is a church office and a cosmetology school.

The Prime Time Grill, at left, is gone. So is the dentistry practice that used to be inside the train engine and some train cars. Very cool! Unfortunately, all this – from left to right – is now for sale or for lease, except for a tax prep and may be an insurance office along the road.

There are many buildings – some quite large -that remain empty. There are empty store fronts for lease all along the road. At the west end, there are entire car dealer lots now vacant. Further west, there’s a block long section where several businesses including the Aslin-Finch Seed Co. building, are now empty. Aslin-Finch moved across the street into space left vacant by an out of business furniture store.

North Division, in Spokane, also has many For Sale/For Lease signs but I guess its about half the number, may be a little more, than the Spokane Valley area.

A few weeks ago, I drove through the business loop in Moses Lake, Wa, in the center of the state. There I saw only a single small office/retail space for lease, plus about 4 vacant plots of sage brush for sale. Compare that to Spokane’s 24% retail vacancy rate. Very sad.

Sprague Avenue – and the center of Spokane Valley – has become one long retail wasteland of empty buildings. Some are turning in to eyesores, like the weed infested old University Appliance store or the boarded up former Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.