Kalispell looks to build up south end


KALISPELL, Mont. - Kalispell city leaders think it's time for a change of scenery. They're focused on the southern gateway to town.

That's where the Kalispell bypass begins, and it's a vastly different look than the city's north end, filled with new businesses and restaurants.

A new Cabela's and expanded Sportsman & Ski Haus and more development make up what's become a business gateway to town. The additions have drawn in more shoppers and business to the valley from as far as Canada.

But now, the attention is shifting to the other end of Kalispell.

"We're seeing that down south right now with some of the new projects going on," said Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell. "There's starting to be a new facility being built down there right now, and there have been talks of a lot of other things that have come through the planning commission."

Compare Kalispell's booming north end to its empty and undeveloped south end and it's easy to see why the city's considering changes.

New projects are coming in discussions about the urban renewal plan. The plan was put in place back in 1996, and now that they've completed many of those goals, leaders are looking at new projects and ideas for the southern gateway to Kalispell.

It's what people see when heading in from Flathead Lake.

"Obviously we have different geographic sectors, but we are one community and strength in one area is strength in another, so I think it's important to keep all of those things in mind when we're looking at our long-term vision because everyone wants the entire community to strong, healthy and vibrant," Russell said.

So far no exact plans are in place, and Russell hopes to hear from community members before moving forward.

"It's an exciting time to really be looking at all these different areas of town and seeing what we can start in terms of program initiation and project development and really kind of create that long-term vision for our community and where we want to go," said Russell.