The Whitefish Planning Board is slated to hear a proposal to build 234 apartments at the former site of North Valley Hospital, which would include seven apartment buildings on 11.8 acres.
On Nov. 15, a public hearing before the board will take place, and Mike Goguen, the owner of the site at 6575 U.S. Highway 93 South, and Will MacDonald, the applicant, will be on hand to answer questions about Riverbank Properties LLC, which requires a planned-unit development land-use permit to construct the apartment buildings, each of which will contain between 32 and 34 units.
According to the application, 31 percent of the property is proposed as open space, including recreation areas along the Whitefish River.
Located across from the Safeway, the old hospital building was demolished nearly three years ago and the site has sat vacant since. It is currently zoned general business, which is why the developers need a planned-unit development permit to proceed.
The project calls for 90 studio apartments, 90 one-bedroom units and 54 two-bedroom units, and includes 20 percent — or 47 of the 235 units — to provide deed-restricted affordable housing. The affordable units would be aimed at people with incomes of between 60 and 100 percent of their adjusted median income in Whitefish, and would be income-restricted and managed in partnership with the Whitefish Housing Authority.
“The multi-family development proposed for this site is a compatible land use with the commercial development along the highway,” according to the application. “The location provides future residents easy walking or biking access to nearby employment and services such as grocery, medical and pharmacy.”
The proposed development also provides a significant transportation linkage between the extension of Columbia Avenue and the eventual connection with Whitefish Avenue to the south.
“This north-south route has been anticipated in the Whitefish Transportation Plan for decades,” the application states.
The extension will eventually provide access for the residential neighborhoods to the north to access commercial uses and services to the south without accessing Highway 93 for every trip. Alternative north-south routes are important in that they disperse traffic and relieve congestion along the corridor.
A second transportation connection is the east-west movement through the site and the alignment with 15th Street. Both Columbia Avenue and 15th Street would be constructed to city standards; however, the right-of-way widths were expanded from the typical 60 feet to 75 feet on Columbia and 70 feet on 15th Street. The additional width allows the developer to provide sidewalks and a 10-foot shared-use path, landscape boulevards, street trees and street lights on Columbia and develop on-street parking on both sides of Columbia and 15th, according to the application.
A traffic impact study did not recommend any additional improvements to the neighboring intersections, and the application notes that the former North Valley Hospital generated a significant volume of vehicles that far exceeds what the apartment buildings will generate.
The Whitefish Planning Board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Whitefish City Hall.