Crews Clean Up Former CHS Property

Auger building removed at Fifth Avenue West North site as property transitions to new owner Mick Ruis for redevelopment along future trail corridor

By Maggie Dresser
The concrete silos are all that remain of the former CHS grain elevator location off of West Center Street in downtown Kalispell on Jan. 28, 2021.Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

As part of the final cleanup stages for the former CHS property on Fifth Avenue West North and Center Street in Kalispell, the auger building that sat on top of the concrete grain elevators has been removed by its current owner, Flathead County Economic Development Authority.

In partnership with Montana West Economic Development (MWED), the organizations have been working to clean up the property to be sold and redeveloped as part of the Core and Rail Redevelopment project.

The dilapidated metal shed, or auger building, was removed this week along with the contaminants it left behind. The property’s metal grain silos had previously been removed, while the concrete grain elevators remain.

“We took off that last bit and removed the asbestos and tar off the roof of the grain elevators,” MWED President and CEO Jerry Meerkatz said. “So now it’s in good shape to transition for redevelopment.”

Last fall, local artist Thomas Valencia painted a colorful train over the auger building to prevent it from getting vandalized.

“The reason we put the money into painting the train was because it was getting tagged,” Meerkatz said. “We just wanted to do something that was kind of whimsical that people would enjoy during the time that it sat up there.”

The 2-acre property was set to be completely cleaned up on Jan. 29, and will be ready to be transferred to its new owner, local developer Mick Ruis, once contamination test sample results return from Helena.

Meerkatz says Ruis has multi-use plans for the site, including potential housing, businesses and possibly repurposing the silos and placing a restaurant on top.

But regardless of what the future holds for the property, Meerkatz says the historic grain elevators will remain onsite.

“The trail gives the City of Kalispell the opportunity to anchor tenants and developers to do fine work, whatever they come up with,” Meerkatz said.

For more information about the Kalispell Core and Rail Redevelopment project, visit www.kalispellcoreandrail.com.

maggie@flatheadbeacon.com

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