Struggling Sprague Ave business owners now dealing with construction

SPOKANE, Wash. — If you have traveled along Sprague Ave downtown, you may have noticed new street closures.

It is something Spokane has become used to seeing this time of year, but business owners feel this year could have been skipped.

Local business owners in the area said that the construction along Sprague has been a long time coming, but added that it does not take away from the fact that fewer people are already walking through their doors.

“We have two seasons: We have winter and construction. That’s life in Spokane,” said Susan Matteson, owner of Peters and Sons Flowers. “It’s life. It happens. We’ll get through it again. It’s just frustrating.”

Construction just began, but Matteson said things have already started to slow down.

“With the construction, we lose pretty much any walk-in traffic that we would have,” she said.

Starting Monday, drivers will no longer be able to travel on Sprague between Division and Grant Streets. The construction project includes rebuilding those streets, repairing and replacing water and sewer mains, upgrading sidewalks, lighting, bus stops and planting new landscaping.

“Where we’re standing right now is part of the University District, which we really see as an opportunity zone for private investment, new housing, shops and things that serve the people,” said City of Spokane Public Works Director Marlene Feist.

Not to mention – it has been a long time since the area had any major renovations.

“We’re preparing a section of street that probably has not been touched much in the last hundred years or so,” Feist said.

“I do think that the improvements are needed. I hope it will increase property value and make this area a nicer place to come,” said Krista Featherstone, owner of Royal Upholstery and Distributing.

Featherstone said, while the construction will be beneficial down the line, it will come at a price.

“I do think it would have been nice if it could have been postponed especially because of COVID last year,” Featherstone said.

“Every day is going to have a new challenge. Every day, something different is going to happen. We’ll get through it. Patience is what it takes,” Matteson said.