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City parking garage cost jumps to  million

City parking garage cost jumps to $9 million

The Kalispell city council shored up plans for a new downtown parking structure during a short meeting Monday where it was noted that the cost estimate for the project has risen to $9.2 million.

The 250-space garage would be financed using the city’s Tax Increment Financing district. The original cost estimate for the project was $7 million.

City Manager Doug Russell explained the initial figure was only an estimate based on unpredictable circumstances in a turbulent construction atmosphere.

Russell also explained the purpose of authorizing a developer’s agreement with Montana Hotel Development Partners, LLC for the parking garage on the city-owned parking lot on the corner of First Street West and First Avenue West. The agreement, which was approved by council Monday, irons out the financial details of the parking garage plans.

“This is basically a sub-agreement of the previous agreement we approved,” said Russell. “…It’s a good framework to identify how our interactions are going to be with the developer as this process goes through.”

The developer’s agreement outlines specifics related to building and financing the parking garage, including reimbursements and guidelines for cooperation with lending institutions.

Council member Jessica Dahlman asked about development and pre-development fees for the project. Development fees, Russell clarified, would come out of the total project cost and be reimbursed either by tax increment funds generated by the Charles Hotel, or by some of the parking spots in the future garage.

Pre-development costs would also come out of the existing Tax Increment Financing district for the downtown area but they would be repaid by the developer.

Council unanimously approved the developer’s agreement. Council member Sid Daoud said he was excited to take a step forward with the parking garage, “especially since this is something that the citizens have asked for for multiple decades, it looks like,” he said.

COUNCIL ALSO unanimously approved an update to its floodplain policy, which had not been updated since 2015.

The new ordinance includes clarifying language and updates based on annexations into city limits that have taken place since the most recent update. The floodplain ordinance also adds a new Flood Insurance Rate Map panel to the floodplain map for the city of Kalispell, because of annexation that has occurred since 2015.

Council held a public hearing on March 7 regarding the proposed amendments, but there were no public comments.

Nor were there any public comments on the floodplain ordinance Monday, although there were two public comments unrelated to agenda items.

Diane Etter spoke against the recent approval of Spring Creek Park, a large subdivision with more than 600 housing units to the east of West Springcreek Road.

“Your lack of concern for the surrounding neighborhoods is appalling,” she told council.

Etter also said she drove past each council member’s house to look for vacant lots where her experience with development might be replicated.

Sarah Lamb, who lives on Second Avenue West, also asked for an extra patrol in her neighborhood after 3 a.m. because she said her vehicle was broken into three times.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or [email protected]