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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

I-90 interchange awaited near state line

Post Falls site expected to get boost

A new interchange scheduled to open this year on Interstate 90 near the Idaho-Washington border could revive commercial development around Cabela’s starting next year.

The outdoor recreation megastore has been something of a lone wolf since it opened in 2007, with only Wal-Mart moving into its territory in 2010.

Around those two anchor stores lie acres of paved parking and vacant dirt lots within The Pointe at Post Falls development, on the north side of I-90 just east of the state line.

The Beck Road interchange, now under construction and scheduled to open right after Thanksgiving, will bring direct freeway access to the site and boost its appeal as a retail destination.

The conceptual site plan by developer Foursquare Properties of Carlsbad, Calif., shows room for three more big-box stores and around 30 smaller retail spaces, as well as a couple of hotels, on the 230-acre site.

The Foursquare property and adjacent vacant land owned by Watson & Associates of Seal Beach, Calif., are the two sites to watch once the freeway project is finished, said Robert Boyle, president of Hanson Industries, a Spokane Valley developer that owns 113 acres of raw land on the south side of I-90 and just west of Jacklin Seed.

“I’m sure you’re going to see things go up in the air in 2013 based on that interchange,” Boyle said.

As for the Hanson property, which has yet to be annexed into Post Falls, Boyle said the company will wait a while before deciding what to do with the land.

“We’re probably going to look at it next year,” he said. “We’ve just sort of been waiting to see how things shake out with the interchange.”

The city of Post Falls shows no development projects in the works for either the Foursquare property or the Expo at Post Falls, the mixed-use development on the east side of Beck Road owned by Watson & Associates.

“No permits are being pursued at this time,” said Robert Paulus, assistant city engineer.

No one from Foursquare or Watson could be reached for comment Friday.

On its website, Foursquare’s conceptual plan for The Pointe shows a Lowe’s home improvement store and a Sam’s Club membership warehouse store next to the Wal-Mart.

A Lowe’s spokeswoman said the chain at this time is not pursuing a site in that area. A Sam’s Club spokesman said the company does not have any immediate plans to locate in Post Falls.

The new interchange will also provide better freeway access for Jacklin Seed, the Greyhound Park and Event Center and Riverbend Commerce Park, all on the south side of I-90.

But The Pointe stands to gain the most from the new interchange, and Foursquare has a big incentive to bring in more retailers soon. The developer is paying for the freeway project with up to $35 million in sales taxes collected at the Cabela’s and Wal-Mart stores and from any other retail businesses that come into the development.

“So if he develops his land faster, that would hopefully produce more sales tax in a quicker period of time, and he gets paid back that much sooner,” Paulus explained.

Diverting state sales taxes to finance the interchange was authorized by the Idaho Legislature in 2007 and was a key inducement for Cabela’s to come to North Idaho.

The Beck Road interchange also will improve traffic flow locally and regionally, Paulus said.

“Immediately to the east we have the Pleasant View interchange, and Pleasant View Road is a fairly heavily utilized roadway,” he said.

It’s a busy spot for 18-wheelers pulling into and out of truck stops on the north side of I-90 and for commuters connecting with state Highway 53.

“Now we’ll have an alternate route for traffic moving north-south to get north to Highway 53 and how that serves different portions of Kootenai County without pushing all that traffic onto Pleasant View Road,” Paulus said.

Most of the work on the new interchange will happen at night to limit traffic disruptions, said Sam Venable, project engineer with the contractor, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co. of Draper, Utah.

Workers are building up the embankment on the north side of I-90 and pouring footings for bridge abutments. The project will include the main bridge taking Pointe Parkway over I-90, and a secondary bridge that will continue the street over Riverbend Avenue on the south side of the freeway.

The Centennial Trail is being temporarily rerouted around the construction work and later will be rebuilt through the area.

The goal, Venable said, is to open the interchange by Black Friday in November, just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy.