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Kalispel Tribe announces new apartment complex plans, breaks ground on casino expansion

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 1, 2017

By Drew Gerber The Spokesman-Review

The Kalispel Tribe on Tuesday announced plans for a 216-unit multifamily apartment complex and nearby movie theater on its West Plains land.

The as-yet-named apartment complex – the second on tribal land in Airway Heights – will be built in partnership with Indianapolis-based TWG Development, said Brandon Haugen, general manager for the Kalispel Development Co.. The contemporary units will be available to tribal and community members at market rates starting in 2018, he said.

During a groundbreaking for the Northern Quest Casino’s latest expansion project, Haugen said the tribe worked with nearby Fairchild Air Force Base while planning the complexbecause base officials have sought to encourage development of more housing stock ahead of plans to bring in more service members in coming years.

“This is really exciting for us because it adds more rooftops in Airway Heights,” he said. “We’re a growing community, and there’s a big shortage of rooftops in the area.”

TWG Development expects to break ground on the housing complex this fall.

Haugen also announced the planned development of a six-screen theater complex, which will be called M&D (Movie & Dinner). Centered around a restaurant and lounge, the 25,000-square-foot cinema building will feature reclining seats and theater-seat dining.

In addition to screening theaters that will be “nothing short of spectacular,” CineGenesis Inc. – the theater’s Kansas-based parent company – is happy to bring Kansas-style barbecue to Airway Heights, CineGenesis CEO Larry Jacobson said.

“I’ve designed thousands of theaters,” he said. “Nothing will compare to this.”

The theater plans to hire 50-75 employees.

The projects build upon the casino’s third expansion, for which tribal members and development partners gathered to break ground Tuesday. Deemed the SE3, the $20 million expansion is designed to help diversify the casino’s offerings, from gaming-centric to more family-oriented fare, Haugen said. New features will include a kid-friendly entertainment and recreation center as well as Windfall, a retail center selling everything from home goods to tribal products, he said.

Also part of the expansion is a recently announced 17-acre Northern Quest RV Resort that will have more than 60 RV sites and nearly 20 small cottages. The resort will be designed and managed by resort-developer Bud Searles Consulting Group.

Windfall plans to employ up to 15 people, and the kids-zone will employ between 20 and 25 full- and part-time. The RV resort will fill up to 24 full- and part-time positions.

Renovations to the casino’s main floor and parking lot to improve customer experience are also in the works, Haugen said.

Curt Holmes, the tribe’s executive director of public and governmental affairs, said he was amazed at how far the tribe had come in developing opportunities and jobs for its members. The tribe is now in a much different place than it was when becoming a blackjack dealer was the biggest dream its members had, he said.

“It’s not very long ago that our elders weren’t living to retirement age. It’s not long ago that we had orange water with high levels of arsenic on the reservation,” Holmes said. “It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have anything … At least we can now say there’s hope for our tribe and the next generation.”

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