Litehouse Foods to buy Coldwater Creek building

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The planned purchase of the Coldwater Creek administration building represents a significant expansion for Litehouse Foods.

SANDPOINT - Litehouse Foods announced plans Monday to purchase a portion of the Coldwater Creek headquarters campus.

According to Jim Frank, Litehouse president and CEO, the company has plans to purchase the administration building, one of four buildings spread across the 20-acre site.

With 35,000 square feet of office space spread across two floors, the acquisition will provide a major boost to Litehouse's administrative structure, which is currently crammed into its production facility. Meanwhile, manufacturing and distribution will remain at its Ella Avenue location.

"I think a new era (for Litehouse Foods) is really what we're looking at here," Frank said.

The building is located toward the rear of the Coldwater Creek campus, and the deal will put both the administration building and its adjacent parking space under Litehouse ownership. While the administration building is connected to a second structure - the larger high bay building - through a skywalk, Litehouse officials have no plans to purchase that portion of the property.

"We just wouldn't have any need for all those buildings," Frank said.

If the skywalk remains intact, it will probably be cordoned off or made otherwise inaccessible, Frank added. However, there are no permanent plans regarding the buildings' final configuration.

Meanwhile, the move should provide many opportunities for Litehouse's manufacturing and distribution facilities. Thanks to the vacated space, company officials can use the breathing room to enhance efficiency in both departments, Frank said.

Company officials have known for quite some time that they needed to expand Litehouse administrative offices, Frank added. However, it was only in the last two months they began talking with Coldwater Creek about the idea of purchasing one of its buildings. At the time, it was likely a cost-cutting measure Coldwater Creek officials were pursuing to keep the company solvent. The deal was already well on its way to finalization prior to Coldwater Creek's bankruptcy announcement on Friday, Frank said.

The next step is to replat the property into separate lots, allowing Litehouse to take legal ownership over a single building within the campus. To that end, representatives of Coldwater Creek will be working with Kootenai city officials to settle all the legal matters, Frank said.

If all goes according to plan, the transaction should be complete by Aug. 1. After all documents are signed and verified, Litehouse will begin the move to the new facility, which Frank said will likely take between 30 to 60 days.

News of a Litehouse expansion should be a heartening development for local commerce, Frank added. With the company able to wield both the capital and employment numbers to justify the expansion, the new administration building is both a positive sign for the business and its commitment to remain in Sandpoint.

"When we're looking at an office of this size, it means a lot of jobs are going to stay right here," Frank said.

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