Construction Season Winds Down After Busy Summer

Commercial development continues to pick up in Kalispell’s economic hub

By Dillon Tabish

Another busy construction season is winding down across the Flathead Valley with new commercial development emerging on the economic landscape.

The City of Kalispell has issued 200 building permits so far this year, which is on par with last year when 257 permits were issued for all types of construction, including new development, remodels or additions.

Last year’s total was 44 percent higher than 2012. The bulk of those permits — 164 — were for residential construction, which saw the most activity since 2008. The city will release an official report on economic development this winter, but early estimates are that it was another year of sizeable gains.

This year, residential construction in Kalispell has trended almost exactly in line with last year, according to city officials. Just last week a pair of townhouse developments were given the green light, each worth $215,000 apiece. Six new homes have been approved for construction in Silverbrook Estates, averaging between $275,000 and $350,000, marking resurgent growth in the large subdivision north of Kalispell.

The rising residential development is following a similar trend on the commercial side, reflecting Kalispell’s growing stature as Northwest Montana’s economic hub.

Michaels, the nation’s largest arts and crafts specialty retailer, is holding its grand opening at the new 18,886 square-foot store on the north side of Kalispell on Oct. 12. The new business will employ more than 60 people, according to store managers. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m., and doors open at 10 a.m. The store will be giving away more than $1,000 in gift cards and prizes hourly throughout the day.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Kalispell community and we hope everyone will come out to help us celebrate during our grand opening week,” District Manager Bill Wehrman stated. “Our new store features thousands of products that will inspire every crafter at any level from beginner to expert, plus classes for our customers to learn new skills.”

Michaels’ arrival is being followed by several other adjacent locations that will soon open, including PetsMart, a retail chain for pet supplies, Boot Barn, a Western wear clothing and boot franchise; and Verizon Wireless. Other smaller individual stores grouped are also planning to move in over the next year.

The official unveiling of Michaels marks the latest large-scale commercial development in the bustling commercial district, along with MacKenzie River Grill and Pub, which opened earlier this summer. Across the road, Sportsman & Ski Haus expanded its Kalispell store by more than 20,000 square feet while its site in Whitefish underwent a large storefront remodel.

The next piece of real estate that should attract commercial attention in the coming year is the 28-acre lot next to Kidsports Complex known as Victory Commons. Earlier this year the State Land Board approved a commercial lease agreement for the lot and a company in Missouri, TKG Spring Prairie Development Four, LLC, is seeking prospective businesses to develop the section.

Nearby, the U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route continues to develop its final stages and the current phase includes building a new bridge on Three Mile Drive, which will span the eventual bypass route. The final phase of road construction, which will continue in spring, will connect U.S. Highway 2 and U.S. 93 at Reserve Drive. Four interchanges will be installed at U.S. Highway 2, Three Mile and Four Mile drives and Old Reserve Drive, while a sound wall will be developed near Empire Estates subdivision along the new bypass route.

Among the large developments this summer were Three Rivers Bank of Montana remodeling and upgrading its location at 233 E. Idaho St.; Starbucks building a new drive-thru location at 10 Main St.; Kalispell Regional Healthcare building an addition to its existing radiation and oncology facility and modifying its pharmacy and lounge space at the hospital campus; and Burger King developing a new restaurant on U.S. 93 South.

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