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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Coeur d’Alene City Council will vote on purchase of old mill site on Spokane River

UPDATED: Fri., April 28, 2017

The city of Coeur d’Alene wants to buy a 47-acre former sawmill site on the Spokane River for a public park and future business development.

The $7.85 million property is the previous home of the Atlas Mill, which closed in late 2005. Several developers have looked at the property, but it has lain vacant because of some complexities, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer said.

The city owns a former BNSF Railway right-of-way through the property, which is a complication for future owners. The parcel also is outside of city limits and would need to be annexed before development could occur.

“We’ve worked with three to four different people over the years, but there were so many questions,” Widmyer said. “We thought maybe we should step up to the plate and be the leader.”

The initial concept calls for a 10-acre city park on the eastern end of the property, with 1,800 feet of waterfront access. The city would annex the parcel and sell the remaining property to ignite cda, Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, which would find a buyer for it.

“We always want to have more public access to the water,” Widmyer said. “We could develop a beautiful waterfront park.”

Keeping part of the parcel for private development would bring jobs back to the site, he added.

Widmyer said the 37 acres could support about $100 million worth of housing and commercial development. The acreage sold to a private developer would contain about 1,900 feet of waterfront.

On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether it wants to move forward with a purchase agreement. An agreement with the owner, Bad Axe LLC, would require a $100,000 refundable deposit.

The city would have until mid-September to conduct due diligence on the property before making a final purchase decision. Sam Taylor, deputy city administrator, said the site has passed the state Department of Environmental Quality’s review for pollution but contains log waste.

If the sale of the 47 acres closes before Oct. 25, Bad Axe will sell the property for $7.85 million, but the price increases to $8 million if the sale closes by Dec. 1.

Bad Axe LLC represents Holly Lahti, a former bank teller from Rathdrum who split a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2011. She later moved to California.

The Atlas Mill site represents one of the last, large undeveloped waterfront parcels in Coeur d’Alene. The parcel to the west is also undeveloped.

The Atlas Mill occupied the site for nearly 100 years, making cedar and pine boards for decks, trim and fencing. About 120 people were working at the mill before it closed.

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