Former Lawmakers to Propose Single-Family Housing Development in North Kalispell

The development would bring 380 homes to a 110-acre lot near the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and Tronstad Road in Kalispell

By Maggie Dresser
Proposed location of Whitetail Crossing and Tronstad Meadows developments. Courtesy photo

In an effort to provide housing for working-class families in the Flathead Valley, former Republican lawmakers Frank Garner and Jon Sonju are teaming up and have proposed bringing 380 single-family homes to north Kalispell.

Located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and Tronstad Road, the 110-acre lot will be part of the Whitetail Crossing and Tronstad Meadows developments where crews will build on a mixture of small, medium and large lots ranging from 6,000 to 10,0000 square feet, if approved by city officials.

Garner has also assembled an advisory board of professionals who work in education, healthcare, law enforcement and the trades to gage their needs and help make homeownership more attainable for the workforce.

“There are people that I know well that have grown up here and they are working professionals and they can’t afford a house at this current median price,” Garner said. “My work on the ground will include things like talking to the community, the neighbors, the advisory group and local builders. I want to be actively involved.”

The first advisory group meeting will be held on March 18, and Garner hopes to wrap up meetings in the next six weeks to establish things like the cost and size of the homes.

As more information is gathered, developers will work with builders to see what’s feasible for the project, but Garner and Sonju are working to ensure a portion of the homes are sold below the area’s median home price.

In February of his year, the median home price in Kalispell was $535,00. Home prices peaked in June 2022 at $647,000. Flathead County’s median sales price peak of $690,000 was in July 2022, but has since dropped to $579,950. The average days on market rose to 127 in January 2024 from its lowest point in August 2021 of 74 days, according to Montana Regional MLS data.

At the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) seminar last month, economists said the construction industry has slowed down as a result of fewer homebuyers in the market while many homeowners are hesitant to list their properties in order to protect their current low mortgage rates.

While demand remains strong, it has receded from its pandemic peak and home prices fell in 2023.

In recent years, rental vacancy rates have hovered around 1% in Kalispell as new residents settle in the Flathead. The city council has also approved more than 5,000 housing units since 2018, many of which are multifamily units that have since come online.

For example, the Silos development located at the former CHS grain elevator property on Center Street and Fifth Avenue West began renting to its first residents last month. On the east side of the Parkline Trail, hundreds of units are currently being constructed at the former Rygg Ford car dealership.

But the Whitetail Crossing and Tronstad Meadows developments would bring more single-family homes to Kalispell, which Garner and Sonju are designing to add more diverse housing options.

“I think we have to do something because these things just aren’t going to take care of themselves,” Garners aid. “This is a chance for us to help shape something here where we grew up and it will help people who we know who have struggled to find a way to get into a home.”

The development is scheduled to be reviewed at the Kalispell Planning Commission meeting on April 9.