Saturday, September 19, 2020

New owner wants to breathe new life into damaged Main Street building

Daily Inter Lake | May 17, 2020 10:25 AM

Paul Roybal believes downtown Kalispell still has plenty of potential, despite the impact of COVID-19 on many small businesses. That’s why he bought the former RE/MAX office at 1 Main Street, with the hope it will bring a new spark to the downtown scene out of the ashes of the fire that took place there last summer.

“You’ve just got to keep moving forward,” said Roybal, who runs Abby Carpets next door to the RE/MAX building.

He bought the property after it was heavily damaged by a fire in July 2019. He and his mother redid the landscaping around the building and parking lots, but the interior is still heavily damaged from the fire and process to extinguish it.

“It’s ready for a rebuild right now,” Roybal said. “It’s not going to do any good to the city with plywood on the windows and all boarded up.”

He bought the property with the vision of someone opening a restaurant into the space, since it’s already outfitted with a rooftop patio that he believes could make a great outdoor space for a bar or restaurant.

“Someone could put a beautiful rooftop patio up there,” he remarked.

Even though he’s discussed the idea with various restaurateurs—including Glacier Restaurant Group and Hellroaring Saloon on Big Mountain—he acknowledged the current circumstances make a new restaurant business pretty unlikely.

“Nobody in the restaurant industry wants to look at opening a restaurant right now,” he pointed out.

Now he’s in talks to turn the building into office space. He said Sotheby’s International Realty and Flathead Premier Title Company are both interested in setting up offices at 1 Main Street.

“It’s a fantastic space for an office,” Roybal said, dubbing the lookout from the top floor the “crow’s nest.”

No matter who ends up in the building, Roybal said the property is already making life easier for his flooring business next door. With the purchase of the neighboring building, Abby Carpets now has 20 parking spaces immediately adjacent to the store, whereas shoppers previously had to park on the street or across from the back of the building, near Bonelli’s Bistro.

Roybal bought the Abby Carpets building in December 2012, and he said he has struggled ever since with “not having that immediate parking and never knowing if I would ever have the option.”

He said the purchase will finally provide a solution for customers who have long lamented the inconvenient parking situation. “I’ve heard that for eight years,” Roybal said.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at (406)-758-4459 or