A complex with 60 apartments in Whitefish. A 40-unit residential subdivision west of Kalispell. A first-phase neighborhood with 96 apartments and 25 single-family residences near Kidsports Complex.
Housing development could gain a significant amount of steam in the Flathead Valley in early 2015 as several separate proposed projects continue taking shape.
The three potential projects are sizeable ones and illustrate a rebounding housing market that keeps making gains following the recession.
New home construction experienced a slight lull this year — there have been 81 building permits issued in Kalispell compared to 113 a year ago — but residential home sales were up 2.7 percent through the third quarter of 2014 in Northwest Montana, with $207 million worth of volume sold.
While a new subdivision is slated to begin surfacing next year along East Second Street, a prominent apartment complex is being proposed on the south side of town.
Jeff Badelt and Sean Averill of Montana Development Group are proposing a 60-unit apartment project off U.S. Highway 93 South behind the Organic Dry Cleaner business and near a future Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites.
The applicants are proposing five buildings with 12 units per building. The units would be a mixture of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.
A new road will also be built off U.S. 93 and will end on the west in a suitable temporary cul de sac until the connection with the future Baker Avenue extension can be made. The applicants are also proposing on-street parking on the north side of this new right-of-way.
The applicants are seeking two zoning deviations: adjusting the maximum allowed building height standards from 35 feet to 39-feet, 6 inches to allow a 4:12 roof pitch; and fewer parking spaces than are required for a development of this size. The city’s regulations would require 140 parking spaces for a complex of this size; the applicants are proposing 120, which would equate to two per unit instead of 2.33.
In exchange for the two deviations, the applicants are offering to ensure six of the units – 10 percent of the complex – are set aside as affordable housing. Also, they are proposing to dedicate a 60-foot right-of-way connection between the future Baker Avenue extension and U.S. 93.
Whitefish’s City Planning Board recommended approval of the request but the city council could not take action last week because of an appeal.
Residents in the area of the proposed complex have raised concerns over density and parking, and they have hired an attorney to file an appeal to the city’s staff memo, which recommended the approval.
A board of adjustment hearing is slated for Dec. 2 to hear both sides.
Whitefish Planning Director Dave Taylor said it’s not uncommon for residents to oppose an apartment complex in their neighborhood.
“Nobody wants that kind of density in their backyard,” he said.
Taylor said affordable housing remains hard to find in Whitefish.
“Just look at the housing market. It’s tough to find anything affordable for the average person or to find places where teachers, police officers and firemen — those people who are essential to our community — can live,” he said.
Taylor noted that the city’s growth policy does call for the southern portion of U.S. 93 to allow development such as the apartment complex and future hotel.
WEST OF KALISPELL
A new 40-home subdivision is being proposed west of Kalispell near Kila. Wayne and Peggy Turner have filed a preliminary plat application with the Flathead County Planning Department for a section of property they own off U.S. Highway 2.
The major development, called Wettington Acres Phase 2, would create 40 single-family residences in three separate phases southwest of Kalispell. The property, between Swiss Drive and Redwing Court, is adjacent to another subdivision the Turners created.
The planning board is holding a public hearing on the proposal the night of Nov. 12 inside the Earl Bennett Building, 1035 First Ave. W. The board will review the proposal before making a recommendation to the Flathead County Commission, which will act on the matter before the review deadline of Dec. 8.
The Turners are seeking to build on 47.45 acres of land, with a 4.56-acre park area proposed to be dedicated to Flathead County for use as a public regional park. The proposed public park is raising concerns over public road access through private neighborhoods, according to the county’s staff memo.
Primary access to the subdivision would be from Swiss Drive and Wettington Drive via U.S. 2 and additional access to the eastern side of the subdivision would be from Redwing Court via Smith Lake Road and Bighorn Drive.
Kalispell City Planners have been meeting with managers of the Bloomstone subdivision in recent months about the possible revival of the massive proposed project.
The Bloomstone development emerged in 2008 as a proposed 765-home subdivision west of Kalispell’s Kidsports Complex off Four Mile Drive and near the future U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route.
The ambitious project was originally planned to cover 85 acres with 185 homes, 208 condominiums and 372 apartments.
The project stalled when the recession hit, but it appears to be coming back to life in small phases.
This summer developers told the city of their intent to commence work on a first phase of the subdivision in early 2015 by potentially developing 25 townhouse lots and up to 96 apartment units in 12 buildings.
According to preliminary plans submitted to the city and the Bloomstone developers’ website, the plan is to begin work near the future bypass route and the new extension of Four Mile Drive.
Bloomstone developers could not be reached for comment.
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