News & Features

Stalled North Shore Subdivision Re-Emerges for Discounted Price

Developers seeking to sell 367-acre subdivision near Flathead Lake as residential development or conservation easement

One of the last large plots for housing development near Flathead Lake has been listed for a reduced price in a renewed effort to sell the prominent — and controversial — proposed subdivision.

Kleinhans Farms Estates, LLC is offering to sell the North Shore Ranch near Somers for $7.9 million. It was previously listed for $8.75 million. This week realtors began actively marketing the 367-acre platted subdivision that is tucked on a scenic section of open land between Montana Highway 82 and the Flathead Waterfowl Production Area.

Steve Dooling, the broker co-listing the property with Sean Averill, said the subdivision is ready to be developed, but first the owner wants to sell it in its entirety.

“He wants to sell it. Bottom line,” Dooling said.

A 20-acre section of the property that includes an old farmhouse bordering state land on both sides is also being listed separately for $995,000.

The original site plans, which are detailed on a website advertising the property, call for an equestrian-themed subdivision with 78 single-family homes, 143 residential condominiums, an assisted living unit for 60 people, two commercial sites and two storage unit lots.

However, Dooling said the owner is more interested in selling the entire property to the state of Montana or an organization that would protect it through a conservation easement.

“The best case scenario would be the conservation easement for the whole property,” Dooling said. “He would love to see the state of Montana buy it and preserve it as open space.”

An attempt at preserving the property failed in 2010 when the developers and Flathead Land Trust could not reach a purchase agreement for an undisclosed amount.

Gael Bissell with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks worked with the developers and other groups for possible acquisition of the north shore property in the past, and she said the state remains very interested in preserving it any way possible.

“We think it’s very important and we’re still very interested in conserving it,” she said. “We’re particularly interested in the integrity of the north shore for its importance to migratory birds and recreation. Maybe there is some opportunity to start that dialogue again.”

North Shore Ranch is regaining steam after being stalled through the recession. Now, as the real estate market experiences significant growth throughout the valley, the proposed development is sure to garner attention and public scrutiny.

Ever since the development was first proposed a decade ago, critics have argued it would threaten water quality and sensitive wildlife habitat along the lake and near the protected waterfowl area.

However, the subdivision cleared all of the necessary regulatory hurdles and received county permitting approval after years of legal wrangling. The Flathead County Commission originally voted 2-1 to reject the subdivision plan over flooding and seismic activity concerns, as well as the development’s proximity to the Flathead Waterfowl Production Area. The developers sued the county after the commissioners’ denial and a lawsuit settlement was reached in 2010 between Flathead County and Kleinhans Farms Estates.

The subdivision was appraised for $10.2 million in 2010 and the full build-out is expected to exceed $20 million, according to Dooling.

“It’s ready to go,” he said.

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