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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Post Falls getting its version of Kendall Yards: Millworx, ‘where people can live, dine and visit’

This 32-acre Millworx development in Post Falls, shown here Monday, is set to become a residential, mixed-used commercial and retail space at the former Idaho Veneer Co. mill site.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

A new development coming online this spring will give the Post Falls downtown district its own version of Spokane’s Kendall Yards.

Contractors are finishing work on the first residential phases of Millworx, a development that will convert 32 acres of a former mill into a combination of high-density residential, mixed-used commercial and retail spaces.

The 650-living unit project, which will include a 151-room hotel and restaurants, is built around the idea of a walkable downtown core that will give it a similar feel to Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development.

“They are creating what appears to be a beautiful mixed-use diverse-housing development,” said Bob Seale, community development director for the city of Post Falls. “It’s a great addition to the downtown area and will create quite the niche here in Post Falls.”

Millworx is centered around Fourth Avenue at its intersection with North Idaho Road, located just south of Interstate 90.

North Idaho Road had ended at the former Idaho Veneer Co. mill, which was owned by the Malloy family. It closed and the family sold it to A&A Construction & Development, of Spokane, in 2020.

Ryan Ruffcorn, the development manager for A&A Construction, said the overall development will take years to complete and cost $150 million to $200 million.

“It’s really a huge investment,” Ruffcorn said. “One of the things we are trying to do with the project is honor the history of Post Falls and the history of the mill.”

Since A&A Construction is the owner, developer and contractor, it gives the company control over all phases of the project, he said.

“That retained ownership gives us the opportunity to create this whole new neighborhood in the downtown core that the city of Post Falls has been looking for for years,” he said. “It really meets the needs of the community and honors its past.”

The project is a five-minute walk from Post Falls City Hall, at 408 N. Spokane St., and is on the east end of the city’s center. The project is northeast of Red Lion Hotel Templin’s on the River and is walking distance to Falls, Q’emiln and Black Bay parks. It’s also adjacent to the Centennial Trail.

“Post Falls has always been sort of a bedroom community and there really wasn’t any identity,” Ruffcorn said. Residents “would either go to Coeur d’Alene or Spokane to work.

“We want this to give them a civic center where they can hang out, enjoy good food and also have the opportunity to live right there in their own town.”

Smart code

The overall project falls within the Post Falls’ smart code zone, which was adopted in 2010, said Seale, the city official.

“Anything that gets built in our downtown areas has to meet our smart code zoning,” he said.

Most residential zones limit the number of homes or apartments developers can build, but smart code is the opposite. It requires a minimum density. For instance, the code requires at least 18 living units per acre. It calls for buildings to be built closer to sidewalks, and encourages alleyways and a mix of both homes and businesses, including living spaces over business spaces.

“What it’s doing is intensifying land use to maximize the saleable value and maximize the use of space,” Seale said.

Other developers have started apartment projects along Spokane Street to take advantage of the higher-density zone, but none compare to the scale or the complexity of Millworx, he said.

He noted that A&A Construction has worked with the city to upgrade Fourth Avenue and extend North Idaho Road.

“It’s been a good process,” Seale said. “They are following through on their design and vision. They are helping to implement the city center master plan through this development.”

The homes

Ruffcorn said his company is partnering with Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty to sell 61 townhomes that will hit the market May 1.

Robert Jacobs, a Realtor with Schneidmiller, said neighbors and others who have seen the construction already have started to inquire about living unit availability.

Jacobs knows the area. He’s the grandson of the late Bob Templin, a developer who built Templin’s on the River resort in the 1980s. And Millworx is two blocks from where he lived as a child.

“It’s been slow going, and people have been talking about it for years, but nobody’s ever done anything about it,” Jacobs said.

Millworx’ first phase includes three buildings that each have six living units, all side-by-side.

The smaller units have two bedrooms, 21/2 baths and about 1,400 square feet of living space. The end units of each building are bigger – about 1,650 square feet – and have a third bedroom.

In phase two, the homes are larger. A total of 12 units in three buildings will include detached two-car garages with a small yard space between the garage and home, Jacobs said.

Those units all have about 2,400 square feet of space and 650 square feet of finished space above the garage that is heated and plumbed if the homeowner wants to add a bathroom in the future.

The homes in the first two phases are on a higher elevation than the third phase, which will be similar in size to the smaller phase one homes, Jacobs said.

All of the phase three homes are built facing each other, with green space in between, he said.

“They’ve all got big front porches,” he said of the phase three homes. “Which is pretty cool.”

While the entire development encourages pedestrian traffic, parking will always come into play.

“Every unit in the development has a two-car garage and private driveway,” Jacobs said. “Where everything is tight and there is a lot of commercial around you … knowing you have two spots in your driveway is just really nice.”

The new townhomes will start at just under $500,000, he said.

“With Millworx, we are coming in strong with pricing,” he said. “We want to be in a position where we can raise prices over time. They are going to be priced slightly below market to start.”

Hog silo

Ruffcorn said A&A Construction is based in Spokane but has done most of its bigger projects elsewhere.

Owned by William Lawson, the company has been building mostly hotels and multifamily housing since 1986.

The company built projects in Seattle, Oregon, California, Idaho and Alaska. It also developed the 326-unit Woodland Meadows apartment complex on 18.5 acres at 1124 E. Fourth Ave. just east of Millworx.

Plans call for starting in spring 2024 on a 151-room Hyatt Place Hotel that will be part of the new development. With only the hotel at the former Templins Resort, Post Falls was in dire need for more lodging, Jacobs said.

“That’s probably an 18-month build,” Ruffcorn said of the Hyatt. “We think it’s a great amenity to the project. The whole point of this is to provide a place where people can park their car and walk through the entire development.”

The project will also include book stores, restaurants, coffee shops and retail that will all be built in way that allows visitors to park and walk to shop, he said.

“We think with the amount of property we have, we want to develop it incrementally over time,” Ruffcorn said. “It will probably take us four to six years to fully complete.”

The design incorporates a plaza or gathering area around the old mill’s “hog silo,” which is a large brick silo where the former mill put sawdust that was burned to create steam used in the buildings.

The area around the silo could host small events or live music.

“We’ve been working with the city to make this a great area where people can live, come dine and come visit,” Ruffcorn said.