Spokane's Hillyard "The Yard"

From 1920 to 1982, Hillyard was a major industrial center. At one time, it produced one steam locomotive each month. In the early 1980s, all of the railroad facilities were shut down. Closure of all of the other supporting industries soon followed.

Today, nearly all of the former manufacturing facilities are gone. Only nine firms remain, and they provide less than 40 manufacturing jobs. Most of the 500 acres of industrial land remains undeveloped. Many of the remaining lots are underdeveloped.

Hillyard’s history as a former railyard and manufacturing center left a reputation of pervasive environmental hazards throughout the area. These hazards are both real and perceived. Washington’s Toxic Cleanup Program confirmed contamination on a handful of sites – notably the former and relatively large railroad site that spans over 100 acres.

Most of the remaining lots lack any kind of environmental record. The large railroad parcels create the impression the overall area is a brownfields, even though the environmental record does not currently exist to support such a contention. As a result, perceived and actual environmental hazards make nearly the entire area a brownfields.

Hillyard remains one of only three industrial areas within the City of Spokane. The site lies adjacent to the BNSF Canada-Mexico line. Over $500 million of freight rolls through the Hillyard area each year. With the help of federal and state funds, Hillyard will soon have access to another freight route – the US 395 NAFTA corridor.

In 2012, the City of Spokane created the Northeast Public Development Authority (NEPDA). Within its jurisdiction lies the former railyard. NEPDA wants to clean it up so that Hillyard once again becomes one of Washington’s robust employment generators.