Flathead Valley Youth Center Gains Full Council Support

Kalispell City Council approved annexing property with plans for youth sports complex and mixed-use development

By Micah Drew
Rendering of the Flathead Valley Youth Center. Courtesy image

With universal praise for a development based on meeting the needs of Flathead Valley’s youth, the Kalispell City Council voted unanimously this week to annex a proposed mixed-use development north of the city that includes a youth center and sports complex.

The 37-acre property, owned by Kelcey and Tawnya Bingham, is located on the corner of Church Drive and U.S. Highway 93. The proposed development, called the Farm District, is centered around an indoor youth athletic and arts facility along with commercial and residential uses.

“To me, the most exciting part is an all-encompassing campus for our youth where they can just come and hang out,” Tawnya Bingham told council during the public comment period. “You don’t have to pay to come in. We’re going to have tutors, we have empowerment programs with Nate Chute, we have DREAM Adaptive coming in. It’s a place for everyone to be.”

Councilor Jed Fisher praised the cost-free approach to the youth center, adding that most recreational programs charge fees that can inadvertently be a barrier for youth participation.

“This is so desperately needed in our valley,” he said.

Rendering of the Flathead Valley Youth Center. Courtesy image.

The proposed development plan has six phases, beginning with the indoor youth athletic and arts facility, which will include a regulation size indoor soccer and lacrosse field, as well as between four and six basketball and volleyball courts.

“Lacrosse has over 300 kids in the valley who play right now and it’s only getting bigger,” Bingham said. “Soccer, we have two big clubs but nowhere to practice in the winter.”

The second phase of the project will be mixed use commercial and residential spaces intended to support the neighborhood and the youth facility. The planned commercial uses include a gastropub, boutique hotel, gas station, office space and a small neighborhood grocery store.

Phases three and four will include up to 70 residential units, and the final phases will be more mixed commercial and residential uses.

“I haven’t been this excited since probably Kidsports,” councilor Kari Gabriel said. “It’s really cool to see this kind of development come here.”

Mayor Mark Johnson praised the development’s farm-themed design, saying he liked that it “hearkens back to our agricultural roots.”

“I’m excited to see it, and I’m excited to see you pull it off and complete it.”

The Binghams hope to break ground on phase one of the development this fall.

“It’s hopefully a second home for a lot of kids that maybe need one. I know that can sound kind of ugly or like it’s going to get complicated and we know that,” Bingham said. “But we’re willing to take that on at this point.”

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