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Development

Kalispell Planning Board Approves Multifamily Housing Project at Fairbridge Inn and Outlaw Convention Center

The housing conversion project would displace the hotel’s current long-term tenants, drawing concern from local nonprofit

By Maggie Dresser
The Fairbridge Inn and Suites and Outlaw Convention Center in Kalispell on Jan. 14, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Kalispell Planning Board on Jan. 11 unanimously approved a project that would convert the Fairbridge Inn and Outlaw Convention Center into a multifamily residential complex with up to 250 studio units.

Project managers with Fortify Holdings, LLC out of Portland, Oregon plan to renovate the existing hotel rooms and add a new interior, flooring, bathrooms, kitchen and appliances. Additional upgrades would include the parking lot, recreational amenities with a barbeque area and swimming pool, a commercial space and the fire code would be addressed to meet the current standards.

“We believe the hotel has great bones and because it’s already built, we can pretty quickly provide clean, safe workforce housing that’s close to downtown where a lot of that housing is needed,” said Cameron Wager, a project manager with Fortify Holdings.

While the project would add needed housing to Kalispell, Cassidy Kipp, the deputy director for Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana (CAPNM), voiced concerns about displacing the hotel’s current occupants who live in the rooms long term.

“There are currently many long-term tenants at the Fairbridge,” Kipp wrote in a public comment letter to the planning board. “While there are many nefarious stories circulating about the tenants at this facility, we cannot stress enough that many single parents, elderly individuals and hard-working good people call the Fairbridge home because they have no other choice.”

Kipp wondered if there was a plan to assist the current tenants with new housing and if rates in the development would be affordable for those who earn a low income.

Wager said the company extended the closing time with the owner of the hotel to allow the current tenants more time to find housing. He also mentioned the monthly studio rates were not set yet but they would be catered to workforce housing.

“It’s a hotel right now,” Kalispell Development Services Director Jarod Nygren said. “It’s not multifamily so this is basically a night-by-night use … Essentially there is no long-term stay to begin with.”

Planning board members said they understood the public’s concerns and they would be addressed when it goes to the city council for approval.

The Kalispell City Council will discuss this project at its Feb. 7 work session. Community members can send public comments to publiccomment@kalispell.com or attend a meeting.

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