Highrise could bring lawsuits - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Highrise could bring lawsuits

Developer ready to go to court if neighbors sue

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Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 10:44 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - The Colorado developers proposing to build a highrise apartment complex in downtown Coeur d'Alene are one step closer to making the project happen.

Neighbors of the proposed 14-story building slated for the corner of First Street and Lakeside Avenue, however, say they're still prepared to fight the project in court.

"I think it's unfortunate," said Greg Hills, principal of the real estate development firm Austin Lawrence Partners, out of Aspen, Colo., on the possibility of his project resulting in litigation. "As we say, we've tried to play nice in the sandbox and be sensitive to their issues."

Hills, in Coeur d'Alene Thursday for the second of three meetings with the city's Design Review Commission, said the company is prepared to handle a court case if that's where the project ends up, but he would prefer to continue working with neighbors to mitigate as much impact as possible if the building is built.

"I really feel people don't win when they go that route," he said of timely and costly litigation.

As far as the Design Review Commission, members said Thursday that the proposed project passes the city's building guidelines. That means the developers could get their final stamp of approval from the commission when they come back for their third and final meeting, tentatively scheduled a month from now.

"I'm not sure our job is to referee whose property rights come first - that's somebody else's job," said Mike Patano, commission member. "Is the proposal consistent with the guidelines we have? In my view, they are."

Neighbors showed up Thursday, as they had during the first meeting in August, to voice support or opposition to the project at 201 N. First St., a spot commonly known as the Mudge Building.

Those who oppose the project say the highrise will block their views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, as well as light into their building, and decrease their property values. They said the commission is charged with protecting their property rights, too.

"I lose everything, everything, and I don't think that's right," said Bev Twillmann, who owns a neighboring condo and would lose a significant portion of her view. "You're affecting a lot of people who bought for the view, that's the bottom line."

The building would be 173 feet tall with around 60 units to rent and buy, ranging in monthly rates approximately $1,200 to $3,500. At the August meeting, the commission and neighbors asked the developer to reduce the building's mass at the bottom, moving it away from its northern neighbors. The developers did by adding two stories to the proposal.

By making the building taller and skinnier, it should open up the views for neighbors, the developers said, while the roof of the building will be landscaped where the building steps up in height to enhance the sight for neighbors looking down on it.

An estimated $20 million project, it would have retail shops on the ground level. The developer purchased the property in April.

After the August meeting, attorney Scott Reed said 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 that he was prepared to take the issue to court.

Reed, who was not at the meeting, reiterated that position to The Press Thursday.

Harold Damiano, resident of the Coeur d'Alene North condos to the north, said the group is prepared to go to court over the issue. The city's comprehensive plan says it will strive to protect people's property rights. By allowing vistas and views to be taken away from them, it runs counter to that pledge.

"Be prepared for it," he told the developers of litigation. "That's our position and we're going to stick with it."

The city's building guidelines allow buildings up to 220 feet tall.

The issues neighbors have with the building's size is a city zoning issue, Hills said, not the developer's, who is exercising his own property rights.

"We want to play by the rules, we're not expecting to have an exemption to the rules," Hills said. "On the same token, we didn't set the zoning."

If the design meets building criteria, the commission cannot deny the application, though commission member Mike Dodge said it is the commission's responsibility to consider neighbors' property rights, too. If the commission approves the design, the applicants, called One Lakeside LLC., would then apply for building permits. The commission's decision can be appealed to the City Council, but the council, like design review, can only judge whether the proposal fits the city's building guidelines.

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  • heatherfeather posted at 12:00 pm on Wed, Oct 10, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    eleven20: Not surprising Hagadone purchased the air rights over the Chamber building. He owns the Johnston Building property at 2nd & Sherman and was considering expanding the Resort there, although that hinged on the city vacating Sherman between 1st/2nd to expand Resort grounds. I'm certain he still has something planned there. I've heard rumors of a high-rise apartment with a fountain and public plaza on Sherman next to Bonsai. That would be nifty!

    I can understand why the CDA North residents are upset, but a similar proposal was floated years ago. Condo residents could have bought the airspace over the small apartments. At that time there were no setback guidelines for towers, and I don't know if it was anything more than conceptual. At the time, Mudge was two apartments and one was razed for the extension of Lakeside Ave.

    There are "view-space" considerations in California. I don't know if it is statewide but there were such codes in ocean view communities like Palos Verdes and Pacific Palisades. CDA's tower ordinances do deal with setbacks and restrictions, but don't tackle "view-space" directly. Unless it is codified, it would be hard to argue in court, especially in view of the city's current ordinances, which the developer here is following.

    We aren't a little town any more. I would rather see towers downtown, and the mountains left undeveloped, than houses over all the hillsides.

  • eleven20 posted at 9:08 am on Wed, Oct 10, 2012.

    eleven20 Posts: 120

    1. The Mayor has nothing to do with One Lakeside
    2. the condo owners did not have to buy the property at all...only the air-rights over the Mudge building (like Hagadone purchase the air rights over the Chamber building
    3. the developer has designed a project that is well within what is allowed by the zoning laws for his site. He has actually deliberately NOT proposed the maximum size that he is legally allowed.
    4. the time to have opposed high rises was back when the City re-visited the height limitations / zoning guidelines approximately 6 years ago. The zoning then actually was "unlimited' in height...
    5. Wheels1....thank you.
    6. the next design review will be later this month...it is about time all of you that SUPPORT this project make it known....it seems that only the complainers make any noise around here.
    7. Compaired to the other high rise developers that have visited (and liv in) our City, this one is being incredibly sensitive to the skyline, surrounding residents - other developers simeply "maximized" their lot. Bravo to Greg Hills for doing the right thing.

  • IdahoJoey posted at 1:00 pm on Sun, Oct 7, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 343

    Poor, poor Bev Twillmann!

    Now she knows how the people feel whose view SHE blocked with her condominium.

    Waah, waah, waah.

  • 3Cheers posted at 9:01 am on Sat, Oct 6, 2012.

    3Cheers Posts: 374

    Bev Twillmann said she will lose everything because she and others bought for the view. That is nonsense! If they wanted to keep the view all they had to do was to buy the land the Colorado developers now own. Then it would not have been restricted! duh......

  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:01 am on Sat, Oct 6, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530



  • Jill Heine posted at 8:25 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Jill Heine Posts: 408

    You missed your opportunity to stop mayor blo em's assault. Hills project is a given and any group that takes this into court needs to pay the full bill for both sides with an additional penalty for delays. Either look forward to the shade or move to Phoenix where there is none. It's finally getting reasonable here and your snowbirds will soon flock. I here snow is on the way for you Bloom-nosers. Take a big sniff and realize what you allowed to grow.

  • Cdajon posted at 12:40 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Cdajon Posts: 364

    Whiners be quiet. Loss of view..give me a break. This is what population looks like..high rise. The more kids we have the more highrises. Just shut up about it..they have the right to build like it or not. If there wasn't a demand it wouldn't happen. More population..and I mean worldwide is the root of all our problems. You people who complain have enjoyed a low population environment ..so move to bonners ferry..nobody is going to block your view there. I hope you all waste your money with your savior Scott reed..when he's done with his fees he'll probably buy the top unit. Close you dusty curtains and read a book or go back to bed. I'm 45 and a native of this area..build it guys and I will come down and enjoy it. How's Your aspen..get it..how's your assbeen. Bonners ferry is calling the cda north residents..go there and be square. Sick of the whiners.

  • Ziggy posted at 11:42 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1121

    They have totally messed up California and also Colorado in the populated places, now it's CdA. This is what McEuen do over was all about--more and bigger high rises. However, they are killing the thing that is special about the town. CdA was a quaint old fashioned town. Now it will be just another tourist trap with ugly things sticking up to the sky. Sigh....

  • justaguy posted at 10:49 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    justaguy Posts: 29

    Bev Twillman will loose everything? Did she give up on stopping anyone that wants to move a piece of dirt on the east side of the lake and now is going to crusade against city development? Where does she want people to live? She does not want people to build in the rural areas of the county and now she is against building in the city. I'm confused.

  • Bob Loblaw posted at 10:06 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Bob Loblaw Posts: 375

    Is this what we want to become? There goes the neighborhood. One ugly tower is enough, thank you. People need to hold their Council "reprehesibles" (not a typo) accountable come election time.

  • heatherfeather posted at 9:41 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    Seems it would be hard to prove a loss in property value. There are plenty of high-rise condos in every big city in America (Seattle immediately comes to mind) whose view includes...you guessed it!...another high-rise. Those condos sell for millions.

    I've wandered around the site and no one's view will be blocked. Impeded, yes, but the CDA North will still have views over City Park and Lake Tower views south. I can't see any way Lake Tower residents can complain about property values since they rent.

    As other posters have said, the die was cast when the first tower went up.

  • meidaho posted at 8:21 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    meidaho Posts: 225

    I am going to get what I want – even if I have to sue you.
    Wow – what a way to get the community to support this project.

  • mister d posted at 7:32 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Agree with wheels1. The city screwed up when it let the first high rise in the city, now suffer with the progress. This company has followed the rules, let it build its building and provide a nice place for many to live. CDA North condo owners ruined the views when their building was built but they forget that. Let the building start, surely CDA North condo owners will lose a court battle.

  • wheels1 posted at 7:05 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 404

    The proposal meets the criteria so any threatened lawsuit will only postpone the inevitable.The game changed when the first high rise was built downtown.Greg Hills I welcome you and your project to the area.It looks first class and its footprint is quite a bit smaller than the resorts.You're correct it is unfortunate since you've played by the rules and have been accommodating and accessible that the temporary resistance has arisen but it will pass.The people yelling the loudest didn't complain when they bought/built their high rise units next to you nor did they worry about others vistas.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 3:36 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    I love this. A Private developer can convert a city block into a Highend Highrise Apartment complex, with rooffop gardens, Architectural detail and multiple commercial store fronts all for 20 million dollars. But the city can't build a Parks Phase 1 for less than 14 million and after the rest of the phases are done will extend past 40 million.

    Local Government efficiency at it's finest, and they even like rising the cost of efficient for profit people, by causing conflicts between the citizenry. ROFL

    Greg Hills, you sure you want to spend your money in this dysfunctional location? The City and it's pupet government LCDC are great at promisses, but they never seem to pan out, except for the established downtown Elitists. What did that redesign cost you? 10, 20 thousand? Wait till the city elitist start nickel and dimeing you, you will wish for the pleasant screams of concerned citizens. They find a pocket and they will find how deep it is.

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