On the Rise – Flathead Beacon
Mick Ruis can see Kalispell’s future take shape. The rest of us will also be able to get a good view of it when we dine atop a 100 foot grain elevator.
Ruis, a developer with long experience in downtown Columbia Falls and Whitefish, turns to Kalispell, where he purchased the old CHS grain elevator on Center Street and West Fifth Avenue.
Ruis left the concrete grain silos standing and recently revealed that he will be building a bar and restaurant above the historic structures, surrounded by 230 residential units spread across the property and an adjacent 5-acre plot that ‘he bought.
Crews will move the earth this summer, with underground work to be completed before winter. Starting next spring, Ruis said aboveground construction is expected to progress quickly, as he stores materials in the warehouses he owns to counter shortages, hoping to complete the entire project by the next. end of 2022.
“Next March we’ll go vertical and be ready to rock and roll,” Ruis said last week. “We are in full swing to get things done. We are not dragging our feet.
Like other developers, Ruis is optimistic about the prospects for revitalizing the central area of Kalispell, centered around the Transformative Parkline Trail, which is now underway and crews are expected to start hiking up the tracks this week.
“Is this going to be fun?” he said. “You walk out of your house and you can literally take a 10 mile walk and go to the stores and feel safe and not worry about being run over. It’s a really cool concept. I can’t wait to see what it will be in five years.
“I look at Kalispell like a sleeping giant who just lay there ready to be built,” he continued. “It’s a beautiful place. There is so much land available there compared to Whitefish, and the city is just wonderful to work in. We can’t wait to partner and get this corridor going.”
The restaurant will be perched on top of the silos, while the bar will be a lower level, cut out from the upper sections of the silos. Guests will enjoy breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Jackola Engineering & Architecture designs the project for Ruis Construction.
Elsewhere in downtown, a familiar face to Ruis, Bill Goldberg, makes a similar jump from Whitefish and Columbia Falls to Kalispell. Ruis and Goldberg have worked together on a number of projects in the North Valley and have now separately staked property rights in the heart of the county seat.
Goldberg, owner of Compass Construction, bought the KM building last year, followed by the Montgomery Ward building on Main Street, which is most often associated with Alpine Lighting. Goldberg also bought Rockwood Ranch on Three Mile Drive, where he plans to build 400 to 500 units, although his focus is downtown. He was part of 16 combined projects in downtown Whitefish and Columbia Falls.
Density was a central theme of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s May 18 Growth Summit. It’s an attractive concept among municipalities and developers as a way to make better use of existing developed areas or smaller footprints of open spaces, which comes at a premium with soaring land costs and population growth. It is one of the most important earnings change tools available to keep prices low.
The appeal of this approach is evident not only in the design plans of the developments in the central area of Kalispell, but also in the hundreds of multi-family housing units recently built, under construction or in the planning stages in entire town and valley, usually featuring multiple level complexes that build up rather than disappear.
In downtown Kalispell, a guiding philosophy behind the new density and infill development will be “live work”, with multi-purpose projects that integrate retail, office and housing. One of the speakers at the Growth Summit was Molly McCabe, CEO of HaydenTanner, a strategic and development consulting firm. McCabe is planning a mixed-use development along the Parkline Trail Corridor.
While McCabe is still working out specific details, she said the project will involve both commercial and residential premises, with a mix of affordable and market-priced housing and a focus on supporting retail. local.
“We believe in density; we believe infill is important, ”said McCabe. “We believe in conserving the types of uses here so that we can have a truly vibrant downtown community. I am delighted to move forward in this area. “
“We are trying to create a livable and usable space locally,” she added.
Goldberg is redeveloping parts of the KM building, which will eventually include a restaurant and several bars, in addition to its upstairs units. He also plans to build a multi-story residential structure at the southern end of the KM building, and has locked up two other sites to do the same.
“My real goal is to create residential units downtown,” he said.
Goldberg said Kalispell is currently attractive for its development potential and environment, fostered by proactive and accommodating community leaders. Goldberg said lower impact fees, tax increase funding dollars and, in particular, the ability to build at more than three levels, which is the maximum in Whitefish, where land prices are daunting, contribute also to this welcoming atmosphere, said Goldberg.
While Goldberg has said he has no plans to bring a skyscraper to Kalispell, the ability to build a level or two more helps offset other high costs, such as high prices for materials.
“With a four or five story building, you start to see a really dramatic impact on the bottom line,” he said.
These basic considerations make a major difference when attempting to build achievable housing, which is a central goal of both McCabe and Goldberg.
“Affordable housing will be the topic of many people for a long time,” Goldberg said. “If we can get the density, we can create more affordability.”
Cara Lemire, whose family renovated the historic Sherman Building and recently purchased the former Cardinal hardware store, points to people like Goldberg and McCabe, and others, as catalysts in a concerted effort to find achievable homes.
“If we want Kalispell to grow,” said Lemire, “we cannot evict the multi-generational families who have lived here forever, nor can families return home without accessible housing.
Ruis, Goldberg, McCabe and Lemire are all excited about the momentum that is building to reinvigorate downtown Kalispell, Goldberg noting that development efforts for years have shifted to the northern end of town and are returning now in the heart of the city.
“You took some of this activity out (downtown). How to get it back? Goldberg said. “That’s what everyone does here. Seeing this now, I know that activity will bring more activity. The people we work with in other communities are already telling us, “Bill, how can we get involved in the projects in Kalispell?” “
“I feel very lucky to be a part of this return transition,” he added, “and the timing for me is perfect.”