Highrise returns, with changes

Developers will present draft at Cd'A City Hall Thursday at noon

This rendering shows the new 14-story design for the proposed building at First and Lakeside in Cd'A.

COEUR d'ALENE - After considering feedback from city planners and concerned neighbors, the Colorado developers proposing to build a highrise apartment complex in downtown Coeur d'Alene are ready to unveil their latest proposal.

In a nutshell, the retail and residential building pitched for First Street and Lakeside Avenue calls for a skinnier, taller version from the original concept.

"We tried to deal with their concerns the best we could," said Greg Hills, principal of real estate development firm Austin Lawrence Partners, out of Aspen, Colo., on neighborhood feedback dealing with the proposed project. "We do know we're affecting the views there, we're just trying to make it as attractive as we can."

The new proposal pushes the lower level massing away from its northern neighbor, Coeur d'Alene North condos. It added two stories, going from 12 to 14. The taller, slimmer design shouldn't block views as drastically as the previous design, according to the city's Design Review Commission. The commission, along with several neighbors, recommended the changes when the sides met in August for the first of three meetings between staff and developers.

"The intent of the recommendation was to mitigate view corridor concerns for adjacent properties and provide more spacing between buildings," staff reports state.

With the change, the building's height would go from 153 feet to 173 feet. Codes allow buildings downtown to reach 220 feet. The 60-unit luxury apartments, estimated to be a $20 million project, would have retail shops on the ground level. The updated plan calls for a street-scaped front.

The company has said it wants to break ground on a 125,000-square-foot project at 201 N. First St., commonly known as the Mudge Building, in the spring. Before it can, developers must receive approval from the city's Design Review Commission ensuring the project adheres to building guidelines.

The developers will present their draft at noon Thursday in the Old Council Chambers at Coeur d'Alene City Hall, 710 E. Mullan Ave. Included in the presentation will be a conceptual drawing of how the building would look viewed from Lake Coeur d'Alene, as part of the skyline, something Hills said the developers strongly considered. He said after the August meeting his team met with several neighbors individually to address concerns.

The proposal has drawn concern from neighbors who live in nearby homes and condos. Traffic congestion and obstruction of their own lake views were two of their primary concerns. Along with a blocked view comes a decreased property value, they said. Attorney Scott Reed said in August the proposal would go against regulations established to protect property rights by causing an economic loss for existing neighbors "in excess of a million dollars," and said he was prepared to take the issue to court.

Reed couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

After Thursday's presentation, the commission will tell the developers what they should or shouldn't tweak with the plan. If the design meets building criteria, the commission cannot deny the application. If the commission approves the design, the applicants, called One Lakeside LLC., would then apply for building permits.

"We think we've made a real serious effort to try and accommodate (the suggestions) as best we can," Hills said. "We're trying to be sensitive, that's for sure."

Public comment will be allowed at the meeting.

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