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Hotel would be game-changer for Main Street

| August 1, 2021 12:00 AM

Kalispell business leaders have done an admirable job of keeping Main Street viable through the years, even as development has raged in North Kalispell and the nearby mall, in its heyday, tugged at merchants to locate there. The historic charm of the downtown corridor largely has been preserved, but admittedly it’s been a struggle to retain a mix of businesses that draws throngs of pedestrians — and their pocketbooks — to the city core.

Change is in the air, though, and a couple of big proposed downtown redevelopment projects would breathe new life into the downtown area.

Local developer Mick Ruis is poised to transform the CHS property and its defunct grain silos into a mixed-use residential and commercial area featuring roughly 230 apartments, bars, restaurants, a hotel, retail space and parking. There’s even a rooftop bar and restaurant planned for the top of the silos, some 100 feet in the air.

Ruis already has shown his development prowess with several projects in Columbia Falls and Whitefish. He’s a mover and a shaker who believes in investing in Flathead communities, so Kalispell is fortunate to have that kind of investment in redeveloping a piece of the core area.

Last week plans for a $47 million five-story hotel and separate parking garage in downtown Kalispell came to light. The Charles Hotel would be built on the city-owned parking lot at Third Street West and Main Street. The city got only one response to its request for proposals to redevelop the site, and it’s impressive by anyone’s standards.

Montana Hotel Dev Partners LLC, led by Bill Goldberg of Compass construction, would team up with BOND Partners and Alchemy Development for the massive project.

The 86,000-square-foot hotel would offer 79 lodging rooms, a restaurant, bar, lounge, retail spaces, conference space and a potential roof-top patio. Think of the economic benefit for all downtown merchants of bringing conventions to Main Street.

Incidentally, Goldberg already has invested in downtown Kalispell with his purchase of the historic KM Building earlier this year. Earlier this summer the new KM Bar and Mercantile Steak opened in the KM, reenergizing the nightlife and food scene downtown.

There will be naysayers of the planned Charles Hotel, including some who may think it’s not fair the city is providing the property, or that the developer is asking the city to consider using tax-increment funds to offset the impact fees.

Cities everywhere offer incentives to lure developers to invest in their communities because economic development generates jobs and tax revenue.

The hotel and parking structure project are still in the early stages of review, but it’s hard not to be excited by what this could mean for downtown Kalispell. A landmark project like this — and the economic opportunities it would bring — don’t come along all that often.