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Hotel owner challenges potential for nearby eight-story parking garage


A Kalispell business owner said adding a proposed eight-story building downtown would detract from the town’s aesthetic.

John Barr, owner of the Grand Hotel on Main Street, told City Council on Monday he was concerned about details surrounding a planned car park west of his hotel.

“We purchased a historic building downtown and were concerned about an eight-story structure right next to the hotel,” he said. “If we do that here, it’s going to be the most prominent architectural feature of the downtown district when you drive downtown – you’re going to see a large cement structure even though it’s covered in brick.”

“It certainly won’t look like an 1890s western town like it does right now,” he added. “It is clear that the development of this will affect the downtown district for decades to come. It requires thought.

The developers behind the Charles Hotel and associated parking garage at the intersection of First Avenue and First Street West recently approached the city to redesign the parking structure to include approximately 70 housing units . The move would make the parking structure approximately eight stories tall.

The council held a work session on June 13 to discuss the concept. He appeared to favor adding housing – noting the shortage of housing in the city – but wanted more details on the plans, including where residents would park.

The hotel, planned at the corner of Third Street West and Main Street, would replace an existing surface parking lot. Construction of the nearby parking garage would then provide parking for the hotel and the public.

Barr said he thinks the addition of the Charles Hotel downtown will improve business for everyone. Although he agreed that “affordable housing is a crisis” in the community, he questioned whether this was the best location, noting that parking would be needed to support this housing.

“We have a very strong interest in this as owners of this hotel,” he said. “To keep the hotel running we need parking and will we have enough parking as we currently have. We need enough parking nearby as we have a lot of elderly guests.

DURING THE MEETING, the Board held a public hearing on changes to the Eagle Valley Ranch development on US 93 North, but heard no comments on the matter.

Spartan Holdings is requesting a Zoning Map Amendment, Growth Policy Map Amendment and Annexation with initial zoning for the property at 3201 US 93.

The Eagle Valley Ranch PUD was established in 2018. The developer acquired the adjacent land containing the former Homefitters building and the neighboring vacant property currently in the county that he would like to incorporate into the subdivision.

The Board approved the draft budget for FY23 and set a public hearing for July 5 on the budget. Then, on August 15, the city council must adopt the final budget.

The city’s preliminary budget is just over $111 million compared to last year’s budget of $104 million. The General Fund is expected to be $14.1 million, approximately $550,000 less than last year’s budget, primarily because the General Fund budget does not include as many capital expenditures.

In a related matter, Council approved a wage adjustment for non-unionized City employees with an adjustment based on 3.5%.

As part of the budget process, the Board is considering the recommendation to adjust the wages of employees not represented by one of the three collective bargaining units in an effort to maintain consistency among employees.

Managing Editor Heidi Desch can be reached at 758-4421 or [email protected]

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins