By RALPH BARTHOLDT
COEUR d’ALENE — Groundbreaking on a long-awaited, 15-story downtown condominium complex could start within the next six months.
A building permit costing $419,000 was filed Friday by former Mayor Sandi Bloem for One Lakeside LLC, the Colorado company that has attempted since 2012 to secure the go-ahead to build a high-rise condominium a block north of Sherman Avenue and City Beach. Bloem is now a real estate agent.
The company has six months to start demolition on the Mudge Building — a brick structure on the site — said Ted Lantzy of the city’s building department.
“As long as they start within the timeframe, it’s still a valid permit,” Lantzy said. “They could apply for an extension if they need to.”
The permit for the $20 million structure calls for 15 floors, including a club floor on top of the building that would be used as a recreational facility.
The original structure, when One Lakeside LLC first proposed the project six years ago, was for 14 stories.
That project was stalled, however, as the builders faced a lawsuit from neighbors who argued the proposed high rise would impede their view and cause their own property values to plummet.
Attorneys representing property owners in the Coeur d’Alene North complex filed suit in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court against One Lakeside LLC and the city in February 2013, but the suit was dismissed two months later.
Property owners opposed to the project argued that the proposed 14-story, 84-unit structure would block views of Tubbs Hill, City Park, the lake and downtown for long-term residents of the neighboring high rise who had lived there for decades.
The property owners also accused the city of not adhering to a review process, but the court ruled the accusation erroneous, stating that the city had followed its own rules when it approved the project for construction. The city denied an appeal by the homeowners to take another look at the project.
The suit was filed by attorney James Crowe, a resident of Coeur d’Alene North, and attorney Scott Reed.
“We think we have a legitimate claim,” Reed told the Coeur d’Alene Press in 2013.
Greg Hills, the Colorado-based developer behind the project, didn’t return telephone calls for comment Monday. He told The Press in 2013 that his company was prepared to alter the design of the building, making it taller and narrower, in an effort to impede less of the view for neighbors.
“We always felt, I guess, we had the right to do what we’re doing,” he said in 2013, after the property owners’ appeal was denied by the city.
Hills told The Press in May 2016 that the project’s delay was due to a lack of funding, and that building was slated to begin that fall.
“We could not find a lender willing to lend on a condominium project like this in Idaho,” Hills said in 2016. “Lenders aren’t wild about condos because a lot of them got burned in 2008. A lot of them lost money in condos.”
The latest design is one story taller than the one put forward six years ago, and it has 69 units, 11 fewer than the 2012 design.
According to the city, the high-rise will use both the existing Mudge building lot, as well as the parking lot to the north.
“They’re using up pretty much the entire lots,” Lantzy said.
The first three floors of the unit will include parking garages, one retail unit, office space and both long-term condominiums, and short-term rental units. The rendering also shows a rooftop garden area on the fourth floor, facing south, above the parking garage.