Restored Vision for Kalispell’s Historic Buildings

KM Building and the Kalispell Grand Hotel each sold separately to new owners this fall who both plan to further restore the old buildings and improve downtown Kalispell

By Maggie Dresser
The Grand Hotel in downtown Kalispell durning a snowfall on Nov. 11, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

When Bill Goodman bought the Kalispell Mercantile (KM) Building 22 years ago, he remembers a dying downtown with light traffic and little action happening in the heart of historic Kalispell.

He spent the past two decades demoing, gutting and completely renovating and restoring the historic building back to its original character as it was built in 1894. Since then, additional historic buildings in downtown Kalispell have been restored, including the Clark Little Building, Blue Samurai and Sassafras.

“I think it gave an example to people that you can restore these buildings and they can work,” Goodman. “I don’t think anybody was feeling that that was possible.”

Last month, Goodman officially sold his labor of love to new local owners after a very selective process. He rejected two offers because he didn’t like the prospective buyers’ vision for the building. He wanted to make sure the KM Building received the love and attention it deserved.

“I’ve taken this place as far as I can,” Goodman said. “And at this stage in the game, I’m just sort of not advancing the building anymore. But the (new buyer), he’s a mover-shaker and he’s going to make a lot of changes.”

Goodman and his realtor, Wendy Brown of Chuck Olson Real Estate, said the building wasn’t difficult to sell and went under contract the first time in 25 days before Goodman rejected the offer. The final sale took 60 days before going under contract and had multiple offers above listing price.

“It used to be that a building went on the market downtown and a year later somebody would come to look at it,” Goodman said. “Nowadays, a building comes on the market and the next day there’s two offers. It’s a different world.”

Brown says the KM Building has generated significant interest from investors ranging from California to Canada and has attracted them to the rest of downtown Kalispell.

“They’re all looking at opportunities in downtown Kalispell because they didn’t get this building,” Brown said. “So there’s activity buzzing around.”

Kalispell’s historic downtown attracted John Barr and his wife, Noelle, who are investors based out of Dallas and purchased the Kalispell Grand Hotel this fall.

“We love the old building and the history of it being in business since 1912,” Barr said. “We were obviously attracted to that, and we were impressed with downtown Kalispell. The whole downtown area has a lot of old buildings that are either restored or could easily be restored.”

Barr was also impressed with Discover Kalispell and its plan for redeveloping the downtown area, especially the CORE and Rail Area Development project, which will include a the future pedestrian and bike trail.

The Barrs purchased the hotel from Butch and Janet Clark, who owned the building for 30 years and are also well acquainted with Goodman. Goodman, the Clarks and Western Outdoor owner Gordon Pirrie used to convene frequently to “solve problems,” Goodman said.

In the near future, the Kalispell Grand Hotel will see exterior renovations, and the Barrs plan to restore the building to its original appearance and expand the lobby, and replace some furniture. They’ve hired Cushing Terrell, an architecture firm that has experience with historic buildings, including the Flathead County Courthouse. They are also hoping to add a deck on the 7,000 square-foot roof.

“There’s people that the city put together with a really wonderful vision to improve the downtown historic district, and that was enticing to us,” Barr said.

While Goodman didn’t divulge exactly what the new owner’s plans were for the KM Building, he says they will “love the heck” out of it and give it the kind of ownership it deserves.

“It will be a catalyst for other downtown development,” Brown said.

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