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Two big housing proposals clear first hurdles

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | January 14, 2022 12:00 AM

Two large housing proposals moved through the Kalispell Planning Board on Tuesday evening.

The board held a work session to discuss Spring Creek Park, a development that would add a total of 642 new living units in North Kalispell. The board didn’t take any formal action on the proposal, but it will be up for a vote at the next meeting in February.

Between now and then, an updated traffic impact study will be conducted, because traffic concerns took up the majority of the discussion time during the recent work session. Planning Board members and public commenters alike shared their thoughts about the possible traffic impacts of the massive proposal.

The plans for Spring Creek Park come from Kalispell company GKM Associates, LLC, which includes Bill Goldberg, a developer responsible for several projects throughout the Flathead.

The subject property is a 90-acre parcel of land east of West Springcreek Road, between Two Mile Drive and Three Mile Drive. The development would include 65 single-family dwellings, 113 townhome/rowhouse dwellings, and 464 multi-family dwelling units, along with two commercial lots, a park area and open space.

These far-reaching plans prompted citizens who live or own property near the targeted area to wonder about increased traffic on local roads, as well as the possibilities of adding a roundabout or a stoplight in the future.

Goldberg, for his part, assured the board: “I’m not going for max density.”

His goal, he said, is to “build a subdivision with diversity and amenity that people want to live in.”

ANOTHER PROPOSAL that came up on Tuesday would also add considerable housing inventory to the city.

The Planning Board considered a proposal from Portland-based Fortify Holdings to convert the Fairbridge Inn & Suites and Outlaw Convention Center, formerly known as The Outlaw Inn, into roughly 250 studio apartments.

The Planning Board enthusiastically forwarded the proposal on to the Kalispell City Council for a vote at its next meeting.

“I’m excited to see the upgrades and things that can happen for that part of town,” said board member Ronalee Skees.

Only the developer spoke during the public comment portion of the discussion about The Fairbridge Inn, but some current residents of the extended-stay section of the hotel told the Daily Inter Lake they were surprised that they would have to evacuate the building by Feb. 12 to make way for the renovations. A petition was started on Change.org requesting that the current households living there be able to stay for three more months to give them “ample time” to find another housing option.

Speaking generally about concerns over the removal of people currently staying in the facility, board member Chad Graham said, “I don’t think it falls on this board to apply those [concerns] to our decision-making.”

Unrelated to housing, the Planning Board also forwarded a request to build an accessory casino in the basement of the KM Building.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.

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