July 27, 1997 in Idaho

Golf Resort Project Teed Up In Great Falls Mostly Nonresident Owners Seen For Hundreds Of Homes On 1,700 Acres

Associated Press Great
 

Discussion about a golf resort proposed for a wheat field southeast of here is picking up, now that the city-county planning director has summarized concerns government officials are likely to raise.

Responding to a request from the developers, planner Bob Horne listed the concerns he anticipates in connection with Foothills. At 1,700 acres, it would be about 40 percent of the size of nearby Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Horne said the project could require Great Falls and Cascade County to absorb extraordinary growth, and increase traffic considerably.

Developers say the property’s panoramic view of mountains would stimulate sales among out-of-state residents who would stay only part of the year, and bring an infusion of cash.

“I expected all the issues Horne raised, and we will do our best to address them,” said Mike Pursley, a development partner and landowner. “But I would have liked to see him raise some positive points about this project, which brings a lot of jobs, business opportunities and tax revenue to the area.”

Horne called the project “a big departure” that would extend the city’s urban area several miles.

Developers say the changes would be phased in over seven to 10 years.

“We think this is a direction the town can grow, and make a positive entrance to the city with an upscale project that preserves the beauty of the land,” said Brian Smithling, a development partner. “It won’t be burdened with the prisons, junkyards and sprawling developments like other entrances.”

“Great Falls hasn’t seen this kind of growth because of a mindset against seeking it,” Smithling said. “But Great Falls is a sleeper, and local officials say its water and sewer systems are at only 50 percent of capacity.”

A project consultant said the project could have 500 to 1,000 homes. Developers said they expect only 10 percent of the buyers to be from Great Falls.

“Most users will be nonresidents who visit or live here part time, enjoy the golf or skiing, spend money shopping and leave,” Smithling said.


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