Nine stories of condominiums could be rising just beyond the east edge of McEuen Field next year, the unintended kickoff of downtown revitalization.
Four investors, led by Coeur d’Alene architectural designer Robert Miller, are asking the Coeur d’Alene Planning and Zoning Commission to allow 74 condo units at the corner of Front Avenue and Seventh Street.
That requires a special use permit. The Planning and Zoning Commission will tackle that issue Dec. 9.
If that density is approved and Miller and his partners pre-sell enough of the units, an 11-unit apartment building and two houses will be razed for the structure. The new building would be “an older style building” with brick and stucco, designed to “blend into the area as much as possible,” Miller said.
He is inviting people to critique his plans. “I live in this town,” Miller explained. “I wouldn’t want any building that doesn’t fit the town.”
Miller is not naming his partners at this point. One lives in San Francisco, one on Orcas Island in Puget Sound, and one in Spokane. They have an option on the property, owned by the Dee Jameson family.
Preliminary estimates say the project would cost $19 million. It would have two levels of parking underground.
The main floor would include a spa, swimming pool and service center that would take care of everything from film developing to arranging maid service and dry-cleaning for residents of the project. There also would be a business center with all of the amenities for a top-level meeting, Miller said.
The next seven floors each would have 10 condominiums. The top floor would have four penthouse condominiums.
The penthouses would have 11-foot ceilings, open terraces with greenhouses, covered verandas and other luxury options, Miller said.
Miller has lived in Coeur d’Alene, and was in the Honolulu area for 20 years before that. Until recently, he and his family ran a designer showroom called Sterling Chandler - named for his grandsons.
As a designer and businessman, Miller has constructed this type of condo in Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, Canada and other locations. He came up with the idea long before a downtown revitalization study that suggested condos would help create a customer base for downtown stores.
But he believes this will get the revitalization ball rolling. “You’ve got to create a village atmosphere,” Miller said. “People have to live where they work, shop and enjoy life.”
That’s right in line with the recommendations of HyettPalma, a Virginia-based consultant the City Council hired to look for ways to help the Lake City’s lagging downtown retail center.
The Lake City Coalition, formed to help make the revitalization happen, also is enthusiastic about the project. “This is exactly the type of thing we are looking for,” said Nancy Sue Wallace, president of the City Council and co-chair of the Coalition.
The project faces two fairly routine hurdles. One is a special use permit that allows the higher zoning density, and the other is a building permit.
There are no restrictions on building height in this type of commercial zone, City Planner Dave Yadon said. Building materials and fire and safety codes instead tend to be the limiting factors.
Miller is cautious about the project’s chances and what it portends for the future. “It scares me to death,” he said.
“If we get turned down, as a developer, I’ll guarantee you every other developer is going to forget about Coeur d’Alene.”
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