Development Heats up in Kalispell as Spring Arrives

A breakdown of major building projects breaking ground

By Dillon Tabish
Construction at Immanuel Lutheran Communities on Sept. 1, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell is geared up for another bustling construction season that could surpass last year’s $129 million worth of new development.

Several large projects are surfacing across town that will keep contractors busy, while many others are in the pipeline. The list includes a new elementary school, continued expansion of health care services, and broad commercial and residential growth, including two large car lots and an apartment complex.

The Kalispell Planning Board reviewed a pair of new noteworthy proposals at its meeting this week.

One proposed development, dubbed Treeline Center, seeks to establish a 6.8-acre commercial subdivision on an empty tract of land next to the U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route along Old Reserve Drive and Treeline Road. Developers are envisioning six commercial lots that could accommodate a hotel, restaurant and office and retail businesses, according to plans submitted to the City of Kalispell. The new development would be near Kidsports Complex and the Bloomstone residential subdivision, which includes apartments and single-family residences.

Another large proposal, called Stillwater Bend, seeks to develop 55.9 acres along U.S. Highway 93 and Northern Pines Golf Course with mixed-use commercial and residential properties. Developers are seeking annexation into city limits to build “a community within a community,” according to documents submitted to the city. A specific layout has not been crafted at this time, according to planning documents, and the project would be constructed in phases.

At full build-out, the development would be valued at an estimated $50 million. The proposed development would surface near Stillwater River across the highway from the Kalispell North Town Center, a 485.5-acre subdivision that is materializing in phases, starting with an 81.4-acre section that will include a new $8.4 million Ford dealership.

The City of Kalispell issued 173 building permits for new residential projects in 2016. Homebuilders across the valley are reporting heavy activity in 2017.

While many projects remain in the works, here’s a breakdown of other development breaking ground in the coming weeks and months.

1. Elementary School

After years of planning and persistent overcrowding in the city’s elementary classrooms, a new school is breaking ground this spring on a 25-acre piece of empty land on Airport Road. The Kalispell school district received voter approval to spend roughly $54 million on a variety of renovations and expansions. The primary project is constructing a $15 million elementary school, which will be the first new elementary school built in Kalispell since Edgerton in 1986. Site construction will begin in May with a completion date set for Aug. 24, 2018. The new school is expected to spark other development in the surrounding area, including residential growth.

2. Apartment Complex

Near the future site of a new elementary school, a 55-unit apartment complex named The Lofts at Ashley is poised to break ground on Airport Road. Developers have scaled back the project from 96 units to its current size, which will encompass a 3.79-acre section of vacant land at the corner of Teal Drive. The city council approved the development in January. City planners say the project will fit a specific need across the community: multi-family rental units.

“There’s a lot of interest in multi-family housing right now,” Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz said. “We’re feeling a big demand for that.”

3. 37-Unit Residential Subdivision

Also near the new school, the final phase of residential development in the large subdivision along Airport Road is materializing this year. The development, called Southside Estates, will fill up an 8.8-acre tract of land south of Merganser Drive next to the U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route with single-family residences. The development is the ninth and final phase of the subdivision that includes Ashley Park.

4. Two Car Dealerships

Two large car dealerships are setting up shop in Kalispell. Green Nissan is building a new dealership on U.S. Highway 93 South across from Town Pump near Four Corners. Up north, the Ford dealerships in Kalispell and Whitefish are merging at a new location along U.S. 93 North in the Kalispell North Town Center. The large new dealership will feature a two-story, 52,000-square-foot building on a 10-acre section of empty land. The dealership is the first development to emerge in the Town Center, which has 11 other lots available, including one for a multi-family residential complex. As part of the Town Center project, developers are building out Rose Crossing from east to west and will connect the road to U.S. 93, where a new highway stoplight will be installed in the near future.

5. Spring Prairie Retail

The final empty lots in the fourth phase of the Spring Prairie development next to Kidsports Complex are filling up. A new restaurant, Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, will be developed near Hobby Lobby. Other commercial projects are poised to fill in the development, including mini-retail stores that have submitted plans to the city. One store already on the books is Home Goods, a retail chain that sells home furnishing items.

6. Kalispell Regional Healthcare Pediatric Center and Digestive Health Unit

Kalispell Regional Healthcare is developing a $36 million women and children center at its campus on Sunnyview Lane. The 190,000-square-foot facility broke ground last summer and is slated to open in spring 2018. The hospital is also developing a new digestive health unit that will be housed in a 25,000-square-foot building with 16 exam rooms and three operating rooms. Also, the hospital is finishing the $14 million expansion and renovation of the emergency services department.

7. Immanuel Lutheran Communities Phase 2

Immanuel Lutheran Communities, a nonprofit organization offering independent senior residential living, assisted living, memory support and rehabilitation services, is undergoing a major redevelopment and expansion. The first phase of the five-phase campus expansion recently celebrated its completion with new assisted-living care and increasing the rooms at The Retreat, a wing built about three years ago with 16 rooms designed for short-stay patients needing physical, occupational, and speech therapies. The next phase of the five-phase project will break ground this summer and focus on The Villas at Buffalo Hill, which will include 35 new independent living residences, 24 assisted living apartment residences for individuals with memory loss, a pool, fitness center, coffee bar and lounge. The total cost for the project has been estimated at $45 million.

Correction: This story previously incorrectly stated Casa Mexico was breaking ground on a new restaurant near Hobby Lobby. The new restaurant near Hobby Lobby will be a separate business, Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, while Casa Mexico is adding a lounge/bar and casino to its existing site on U.S. Highway 93 South.

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