By CHANSE WATSON
Hagadone News Network
KINGSTON — The Silver Valley has always been filled with places that bring back fond memories. From Prichard to Avery and Mullan to Cataldo, it’s hard not to see a relic of the past that reminds residents (current and former) of the good times of yesterday.
One of these relics in particular though had its final chapter written this week with its demolition on Wednesday.
Albert’s Landing Bar & Grill, located just north of Kingston and Enaville beside the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, was an iconic watering hole in the Silver Valley for decades.
While the establishment catered to all who walked in, Albert’s was most known for serving those who floated down the river. The landing is a traditional end point for floaters and the bar was conveniently located right near the shoreline to offer anyone the chance to rehydrate after being in the sun all day.
Unfortunately for its patrons though, years of neglect and mismanagement took their toll on the bar, to the point that the new Albert’s Landing owner, Allen Worst, decided that nothing within reason could be done to save it.
Beginning Wednesday morning, contractors carried out the demolition of the bar and grill portion of the building throughout the day.
Worst, part owner of RC Worst & Co. in Coeur d’Alene, took official ownership of the property on April 5 of this year after first checking it out in February.
“It just came up on the MLS (multiple listing service). My Realtor sent me the listing and we were looking for property for our family for personal camping and decided that 50 sites might be enough for us!” Worst said jokingly. “No, we saw an opportunity to invest in this and thought it would be a good way to do it.”
Worst and his family purchased all of the land associated with Albert’s Landing — this includes the bar and grill, the campsites, the old cabin and the famous country store building (featured in the movie “Dante’s Peak”).
During the surveying period in February, Worst explored several possibilities of refurbishing the bar and grill by checking out the septic system and other utilities. What he found was extensive damage to almost every aspect of the structure.
“The restaurant/bar area needed (work on) the electrical, plumbing, roof, siding, floor and ceiling,” he said. “By the time we ultimately remodeled this, we would probably be better off just putting a new building up.”
Another major issue with the bar was the matter of the liquor license.
“We had a grandfathered-in resort liquor license, but if those licenses are not used for a long period of time, you can no longer get them back and it had lapsed with enough time to where the state was not going to reissue that again.”
This means that, even if the Worst family were to refurbish the place (working around their full-time jobs), Albert’s would not have been allowed to serve alcohol unless it applied for a new license or bought one from someone else.
With the demolition complete, Worst is looking forward to sprucing up the rest of the property and making it more family friendly.
The immediate priorities are to address the issues plaguing the water, sewer and electrical systems on the property.
“The water system was shut down by DEQ because of some contamination issues and lack of maintenance,” Worst said. “The septic system was undersized and not adequate for any connection sites or bath and shower house. The electrical, people were apparently tripping breakers and having some issue with that.”
Fortunately for Albert’s — water, sewer and electrical issues are what RC Worst & Co. deal with everyday.
The space taken up by the former bar will be used to expand RV parking and camping areas. The garage and shop portion of the bar will remain, along with all the other structures on the property.
Worst has plans to reopen the country store in mid- to late-June with his daughter at the helm.
As for the land, additions of concrete picnic tables and fire pits are planned to help enhance a family friendly environment. Slated for spring and fall of 2010, Worst also wants to build a bathroom and shower house.
“We may add a few more RV sites, but ultimately we don’t want to interfere with the floater corridor,” he said.
While Worst has big plans to reinvent Albert’s Landing and keep people around, he is aware of the push back from the community, especially regarding the demolition of the bar.
“It does seem like we got a lot of local opposition for especially the bar thing,” he said. “I’d like to make the point that we’re really trying to restore what Albert’s was, but there’s certain decisions that we have to make that are best for us. Our goal is to really turn this into a family place where people can get off the river, camp here, and it be a good environment where there’s not a lot of heavy drinking or that kind of thing.”
He added, “we’re certainly not interested in closing it down (the landing), limiting anyone’s access or making anyone mad … To make it a good investment for us, we obviously have to make money off it, but we also want to make it good for the community too so it benefits the other businesses up here and gives people good access to the river.”
Albert’s Landing is located at 418 Old River Road, Kingston.