Duane Hagadone isn’t done building his hospitality empire on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s north shore.
The wealthy businessman, now 82, is moving forward on a longtime plan to add a second hotel tower at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
A preliminary design shared with the city this year shows a narrow tower rising 19 stories above Front Avenue and over a portion of Hagadone Hospitality Corp.’s Resort Plaza Shops, reaching the downtown building height limit.
To accomplish that, the company has asked the city to vacate part of Front – the same section Hagadone persuaded the city to close to auto traffic early last year. The new tower would straddle Front between the plaza and the resort’s parking structure, keeping the street-level space open for the Centennial Trail, pedestrians, emergency vehicles and city utility access.
Hagadone Hospitality President Jerry Jaeger did not return a call Wednesday to comment on the proposal.
Mayor Steve Widmyer said the expansion is the type that will attract more convention business to Coeur d’Alene and could generate millions of dollars for the economy.
“I think when you look at what Spokane has done with the new 700 rooms that they’re adding in downtown; when you look at what Boise is doing with their expansion of the convention center – the convention business is getting very competitive,” Widmyer said. “If we want to keep up and compete with Spokane and Boise for those conventions, an additional investment in our community for those conventions is a great thing.”
City Councilman Dan Gookin agreed.
“It’s a tremendous positive,” Gookin said. “If we can get more people coming here on conventions, I think it’s going to be a boon to downtown, especially in the dark months in January, February, March, and you have a convention of 500 people some week, it’s going to really help downtown.”
The proposed street vacation was filed Friday with the city’s engineering department – 16 months after the City Council voted unanimously to approve Hagadone’s project to turn Front into a pedestrian plaza between Second and Third streets, make Second Street one-way traffic from Front to Sherman Avenue, cut down street trees in the area and make other changes across 2 acres in front of the resort. The company spent $1 million on that work last year after the city gave its blessing.
With Front now closed to traffic in front of the resort, it could be easier for the company to persuade the city to vacate the street. Widmyer said as far as he knows that was not the strategy.
“From all the information that has been presented to me, the two have never been linked together,” the mayor said. “When the first stage was brought before us, it was presented just as it is today; there was no plan B to it. Now they’ve moved on and they have another proposal in front of us.”
Gookin said he wasn’t considering the potential for a new hotel tower when he voted last year on the Front Avenue change.
“That issue to me was the public safety on the street, which was just really ugly, and what we could do about that,” he said. “Since the resort offered to pay the money to fix the street, it seemed like a good mix.”
Hagadone has yet to submit a formal building plan for the second tower. That would come after the City Council considers the street vacation, which is expected to happen in the next month or so. In vacating the street, the city would transfer the property to the resort.
The first resort tower is about 216 feet tall with 18 floors. The city in 2006 adopted height limits for downtown buildings, with a maximum possible height of 220 feet, or about 19 stories, if developers agree to incorporate public features such as street-level retail shops, day cares, public art or affordable housing for people who work downtown.
Hagadone’s addition would include retail and meeting space on the first two floors and guest rooms on the upper floors, including suites on the top two floors, preliminary designs show. It’s not clear if those details will be part of the final design submitted to the city.
The development would not alter the route of the Centennial Trail between City Park and McEuen Park, Widmyer said.
“There was a lot of money invested in the Centennial Trail to make that connection, and that connection is not going anywhere,” he said.
Hagadone has had a contentious history with city leaders over his development ideas.
In 2006, he scrapped a $100 million plan to build condos, shops and offices on Blackwell Island and scaled back plans to upgrade the existing marina there after the City Council, on a tie-breaking vote cast by Mayor Sandi Bloem, rejected the annexation of 78 acres. Without city water and sewer, he couldn’t develop the 12-acre “village-style” business park he had envisioned there.
“It was just anti-Hagadone tactics used by the mayor,” he said at the time in response to the council vote.
Two years before that, Hagadone proposed closing two blocks of Sherman Avenue for a $20 million flower garden. He pulled the proposal after the council insisted it go to a public vote.
Widmyer used to work as a controller for Hagadone, and he and his wife own a clothing store, Marie’s Boutique, in the lobby of the resort. Asked about his potential conflict of interest in the city’s handling of the tower proposal, the mayor responded, “I would obviously disclose all of my past dealings with the resort. … I would reveal all those things. You know, I’m an open book. Everything that I do is open. But it doesn’t create a conflict of interest, because if they were to do something, I have no direct financial gain.”
A larger resort would benefit many downtown businesses, Widmyer added.
“It would bring a lot of dollars into a lot of peoples’ pockets.”
The day before the street-vacation application was filed, Duane and Lola Hagadone showed up at a Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County board of directors meeting and made a surprise announcement that they would donate $1 million to help build a new Boys and Girls Club next to Lakes Magnet Middle School and give as much as $1 million more for the project in a match of community fundraising.
“Duane has always been a visionary in this community,” Ryan Davis, executive director of the organization, was quoted as saying in a news article Sunday on the front page of the Coeur d’Alene Press, which also is owned by the Hagadone Corp.
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