The West Central neighborhood was platted in the 1880’s when William Pettet and William Nettleton invested heavily in the area. The neighborhood grew with new homes and businesses and hundreds of people moved to the area. Development was accelerated with the trolley system in the 1890s. You can still see streetcar track remnants on Cochran and Dean avenues, part of a system built by the Washington Water Power Co. in 1899. Accessibility to Natatorium Park and the scenic views of the river provided a wonderful recreational retreat for the thriving community.
In the early 1900s West Central, like other Spokane neighborhoods, boasted a series of small neighborhood groceries. Today however, West Central is in an area that is known as a “food desert,” a Federal Government designation that includes a lack of transportation as well as a scarcity of grocery and produce stores. The neighborhood is encircled by the Spokane River but its proximity to downtown is hampered by transportation issues and traversing the Monroe Street Bridge.
Project Hope is working to overcome these problems and focuses directly on the West Central neighborhood. Its mission is to engage young adults ages eleven to eighteen in a business model that provides education and job training as well as offering locally grown fruits and vegetables to some of the neighborhood’s poorest communities. As part of the organization, kids learn how to grow, sell, and promote the produce to locals. It not only provides them with marketable skills but also keeps them out of trouble.
James Kashork, the director of Project Hope, believes the organization is at a crossroads and points to the rapid increase in participation over the last three years. With a crew of just twenty-four volunteers in 2013, three years later the number is in the seventies. Kashork believes with additional funding they’ll be able to transition older kids from volunteers to paid employees. With a grant and a generous donation from the Kendall Yards’ developers, Project Hope will eventually have a new location which will house an additional market as well as the organization’s headquarters. The new development will be named the William’s Market - honoring the famous two Williams who helped create the neighborhood originally.