North Town opens whole new world

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Growth has taken off in North Kalispell in a big way.

While the infill of Spring Prairie Phase 4 is clipping along at a fast pace — HomeGoods and Harbor Freight Tools are the latest takers for retail space — something even more impressive is unfolding to the north. The infrastructure for the 500-acre Kalispell North Town Center is well underway as a road network takes shape. A new $8.4 million Ford dealership is under construction there — the first mega-retailer in the development — and deals are in the works for other businesses to claim their spots in what will be a lifestyle community complete with residential housing.

There are those who no doubt would rather see the farm fields preserved north of West Reserve Drive. Open green space certainly is a desirable amenity and to that end about 20 to 25 percent of Kalispell North Town Center will be green space. That seems reasonable.

The economy appears to be hitting on all cylinders in the Flathead Valley these days, and for cities such as Kalispell the decisions are at hand about how to conduct orderly growth. Town Center developers Roger and Jeff Claridge of Stillwater Corp. seem to have a well-thought-out plan for their sizable development. They also own LHC Inc., a company that has been involved in a number of big projects in the area. We have faith they’ll do right by the Flathead Valley as they develop Kalispell North Town Center. It won’t be built overnight; rather it will take upwards of 20 to 30 years to realize the full vision.

Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz aptly noted that the Town Center will be the catalyst for more mixed-use growth north of West Reserve. Several projects already are in the works. Traffic will be a challenge, to be sure. Local and state officials already are talking about what can be done to beef up our roads, namely West Reserve Drive.

It’s a busy, but exciting time for Kalispell. We’ll be watching to see how it all unfolds, and we trust our city officials are entrenched and engaged in this round of growth that further positions Kalispell as a major trade center.

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