Coeur d’Alene Airport sees new developments

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Dauntless Air firefighting planes dropped 800 gallons of water as part of the groundbreaking of the StanCraft fixed-based operation. Photo courtesy of Coeur d’Alene Economic Development Corp.

COEUR D’ALENE – Wooden boat manufacturer StanCraft Co. is constructing a 30,000-square-foot private airplane hangar at the Coeur d’Alene Airport-Pappy Boyington Field – one of a number of developments coming to the North Idaho city’s airport.

But what do airplanes have to do with boats?

“99% of our StanCraft wooden boat clientele fly private,” said Robb Bloem, president and CEO of the Hayden-based company.

And the people with the wherewithal to buy $600,000 to $1 million boats were asking StanCraft to fix up the interiors of their planes like the interiors of their boats, leading to an expansion of the company that could add 20 to 25 jobs, with a goal of 100, he said.

photo of robb bloem
Robb Bloem

Bloem had an ulterior motive for investing $15 million in the StanCraft Jet Center, technically known as a fixed-base operation (FBO). While the Coeur d’Alene airport had two FBOs, they didn’t show off the city the way he would like.

“When our clients would fly in, we’d hopefully whisk them in to our shop, which is very beautiful,” Bloem said.

So the company decided to build a new FBO to provide a nicer introduction to North Idaho, where Bloem was born and raised.

“We’re creating a nice entry point,” he said. “It’s no different from driving to downtown and seeing a beautiful lake to see a beautiful facility.”

The existing 4,800-square-foot facility will become a shed for trucks and forklifts, while the new  50,000-square-foot building will include 30,000 square feet of hangar, 15,000 square feet of work and support space and just under 15,000 square feet for FBO/offices, which will also include a Thomas Hammer café, virtual golf studio, nap rooms and a StanCraft wooden boat showroom, he said.

The company plans to build an airpark of 15 to 20 hangars of 12,000 square feet each to attract other companies, Bloem added.

“We’re seeing the excitement in the future of the Coeur d’Alene Airport,” he said.

The building is designed by Eric Hedlund Design of Coeur d’Alene and built by Young Construction Group of Hayden. It is expected to be completed in May.


That’s not the only expansion going on in the Coeur d’Alene Airport. In June, aerial firefighting company Dauntless Air moved its maintenance facility from Deer Park, Washington, to Coeur d’Alene.

Dauntless Air has had a contract for seven years with the Idaho Department of Lands to help fight fires around the state.

Brett L’Esperance

“We outgrew Deer Park, and we’ve always had our eye on Coeur d’Alene,” said Brett L’Esperance, CEO of the company, which is based in Appleton, Minnesota. “The challenge was, a year ago there weren’t many open locations.”

But the company did find a hangar – albeit a small one – and that broke the ice, L’Esperance said.

“We let it be known we were looking for more space, and we picked up a hangar that’s a little bit bigger,” he said. “We’re not done, but two hangars right now are meeting our needs.”

Coeur d’Alene, a mountain resort town, also provides more amenities for Dauntless employees, CFO Brian Murphy added.

“It’s a far cry from what we had in Deer Park, which was a very small town,” he said.

That also makes recruiting the pilots, mechanics and crew chiefs the company needs easier, L’Esperance added.

“We’re looking for young, well-trained mechanics who will be around for a long time,” he said. “The next 10 years is all about finding, hiring and retaining the best people.”

Dauntless has six full-time employees throughout the year, but during the summer peak season, the company could have ten times that number, Murphy said.

While Dauntless is not currently renting space in StanCraft’s FBO, that could happen down the road, Murphy said. The companies first made contact about a year ago through the Panhandle Area Council, when Dauntless was looking for space and StanCraft was looking for funding, he said.

“The Panhandle project is somewhat on hold, so StanCraft is moving ahead,” he said.

Dauntless participated in the groundbreaking with a flyby of some of its aircraft and could lease space in the future, he said.

Like the rest of Idaho, Coeur d’Alene struggles with growth

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Gynii Gilliam, who heads the Coeur d’Alene Economic Development Council, says she is stymied by a lack of skilled workforce. Photo by Sharon Fisher

COEUR D’ALENE — In many ways, this city’s economic development situation is like Boise’s: Rampant growth and a lack of workforce and affordable housing – with the added bonus of a state with no income tax and a $12 minimum wage next door.

“By percentage, we were No. 1 and 2 with Boise,” in terms of growth, said Gynii Gilliam, president and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corp.

Historically, Coeur d’Alene’s economic activity was in resource extraction, ranging from timber to mining to agriculture. As time has gone on, those industries have declined. Gilliam’s organization was established in 1987 by major regional companies such as the Hagadone Corp. and Avista Power. Cities in the region such as Post Falls, Hayden and Rathdrum, as well as Kootenai County itself, also contribute, she said. The organization helps attract new businesses and expand existing ones, she said.

With Washington and its $12 minimum wage next door, wages on the Idaho side of the border tend to match that level, Gilliam said. In fact, unemployment on the Idaho side is lower than on the Eastern Washington side. If the wage differential is under a dollar less an hour, Idaho workers probably won’t bother driving to Washington for it, “but for five dollars’ difference, you’re going to make the drive,” she said.

That goes for higher salaries as well. Coeur d’Alene hospitals have to keep up with Spokane salary rates, or they lose personnel, Gilliam said. Between that and the tight labor market in general, hospitals in Coeur d’Alene are short of all kinds of staff, not just medical.

“Hospitals are like a little town,” Gilliam said, requiring staffers such as janitors and food preparers as well as doctors and nurses. Some hospitals in town have hundreds of openings, she said.

Technical industries, ranging from industrial machining to pilots to cybersecurity, are also short and have hundreds of openings.

“Everyone’s hitting every possible way to list their jobs,” she said.

Gilliam has also been working with regional education providers such as North Idaho College (NIC) on developing the workforce employers need, such as nurses and manufacturing workers. Through a partnership with the University of Idaho, NIC now has a four-year computer science program that people can complete without leaving Coeur d’Alene.

“Everything is going to computer science,” Gilliam said. “Everything requires data and technology.”

Gilliam is also looking at ways to encourage retired people to re-enter  to the workforce. The question is how to find them and learn what they are interested in, she said.

“A lot of us are healthier,” she said. “You’re retired at 60. ‘I’ve read all the books. I need to do something more.’ We need to figure out how we can tap into that market.”

One step is teaching that population how to apply for jobs in an era when applications are online and many interviews are via video, Gilliam said.

“They can do the work,” she said. “They can’t get past the application process.”

Housing is also an issue.

“We’re short of homes in the $250,000 to $375,000 range,” Gilliam said. “They say it’s a buyer’s market over $400,000, but a seller’s market under that.”

Even new homes built to order are nine months out, she said.

Coeur d’Alene also lacks move-in-ready industrial space.

“We have property, but there’s no buildings on it,” Gilliam said. “When companies are looking for a place to move, they want it available.”

Vacancies are usually snapped up within three months, she said. At the same time, businesses are balking at some new construction in the Post Falls area because it is more expensive than existing buildings.

“People are used to a certain lease rate,” Gilliam said. “The market hasn’t caught up with the new numbers yet.”

Innovation Den spawns Coeur d’Alene startup culture

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Chris Cochran, chief operating officer of the Innovation Collective, opens the hidden entrance to the Lair, a speakeasy-style bar in Coeur d’Alene’s Innovation Den. Photo by Sharon Fisher

COEUR D’ALENE – The Innovation Den, which combines a century-old building with startups and the services that support them, is unique in Idaho.

Housed in a former Elks Lodge and sporting a $1 million-plus makeover, the brick building includes a coffee shop and its own roaster, a speakeasy-style bar behind a bookcase, presentation space and a barbershop.

It also includes reserved and coworking office space, which has hosted just about every startup in Coeur d’Alene at one time or another, including The Career Index, which just moved in last month after Snacktivist Foods, winner of the 2018 Trailmix food startup competition, moved out. It also houses the University of Idaho computer science department. Across the street is Continuous Composites, which is in another historic renovated building.

One tenant is the Innovation Collective, a sort of incubator crossed with a support group, which helps spawn startups and has led to Coeur d’Alene being ranked as Idaho’s metropolitan startup hub, over places like Boise and Idaho Falls, according to a 2018 Brookings Institution study.

The organization holds dozens of free events for entrepreneurs, ranging from monthly “fireside chats” to semimonthly “coffee and concepts” discussions that let local entrepreneurs share stories and ask for help. In addition, the organization holds an annual Think Big robotics festival, scheduled for September.

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The Innovation Den is housed in a century-old former Elks Lodge. Photo by Sharon Fisher

“People need a place to hang out, like a clubhouse,” said Nick Smoot, Innovation Collective founder and one of the partners in the Innovation Den, along with Rick and Julie Thrasher and Cody Peterson.

That said, there’s more to the Innovation Collective than the building — it’s really about a shift in people’s thinking, Smoot said. The collective acts as a hub for networking and brainstorming solutions to problems, he added.

“The introduction piece has really come from this authentic place of trying to help first,” said Smoot. “Can we create a system where people go, ‘what do you need, and how can I help you?’ — just for the sake of helping someone else win.”

Fledgling companies that are members of the Innovation Collective range from Quantum Star Technologies, which uses artificial intelligence to improve cybersecurity by teaching the system what malware looks like, to SayRoar Studio, which is raising money to develop an animated movie. Others include The Roxy Art Market, a web-based augmented reality media platform for artists, collectors and marketers looking to create, manage and display pieces for sale, and SpiritLord Productions, which is developing a an 8-bit video game.

Probably furthest along is Dragon Jacket Insulation, which has developed reusable insulation. Launched four years ago, the company has 10 employees and has been shipping product for a couple of years, said Abigail VanPortfleet, marketing director.

“We’re probably sold three miles’ worth so far,” she said.

Dragon Jacket’s problem is the popular image of what insulation is supposed to look like, VanPortfleet said.

“The challenge is that people are so used to what they used before that something new is risky,” VanPortfleet said.

But there are benefits to insulation that can be taken off and reused, without needing to be disposed of or replaced.

“It goes on cleaner, and it looks cleaner for much longer,” VanPortfleet said.

It’s safer to install, requires fewer tools and is safer for children because there are fewer particles to inhale, she said.

Notably, the insulation has an edge on the bottom that organizations can use for early leak detection. In big companies, leaks can “turn an unscheduled shutdown into billions of dollars,” VanPortfleet said.

“It’s a mundane product, but there’s opportunities throughout the country.”

Catching up with The Career Index as it lands a big Veterans Administration contract

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The Career Index’s SARA system helps keep social services clients on track by asking them questions on a regular basis. Photo courtesy of The Career Index.

COEUR D’ALENE — A Coeur d’Alene company that developed software for use by state agencies and nonprofits to remind social service clients of necessary tasks has landed a big contract with the federal Veterans Administration.

“It’s a national contract for vocational rehabilitation and employment, starting off with injured vets who need assistance getting back to work,” said Cody Dixon, director of operations for The Career Index Corp. (TCI).

The contract, which went into effect on May 1, will cover 1,200 counselors and 110,000 veterans nationwide. The first phase will be implemented by 2021.

Dixon couldn’t reveal the exact amount of the contract, but said it was a six-figure-a-year, five-year contract.

“The thing we’re most excited about is taking technology to help enhance the services our veterans are receiving,” he said.

TCI’s product is called SARA, or Semi Autonomous Research Assistant, a virtual assistant that combines artificial intelligence and natural language processing. It uses two-way electronic mail and text messaging to follow up with people on their status with items such as training, health care and job search. If the system runs into a problem, it can refer the client to a case manager for individual attention.

SARA is currently being used in 44 government agencies across the country, Dixon said.

“We don’t have a marketing department, or sales,” he said. “They come to us, we show them a demonstration, they connect the dots, then they find the funding to make it happen. We have leads we haven’t even followed up on. Our primary focus is to make sure we’re delivering the service we’re promising.”

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Cody Dixon. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

The product is expected to help both parties in the system. Counselors are overwhelmed and have large caseloads, Dixon said, but the SARA system will help them with data entry and documentation, freeing up their time for direct client engagement.

“These are folks who have been trained, with masters’ degrees, and they’re stuck doing paperwork,” he said.

At the same time, the technology will also help the veterans by giving them a way to link back to their counselors and find additional resources, Dixon said.

The software will be used to create appointments and appointment reminders, send out notifications and reminders and relay all that back to the case manager. “From a reporting standpoint, we’ll be providing reports to administrators,” he said. “It’ll be change management across the board.”

Part of the process will be taking SARA and hosting it in Amazon Web Services GovCloud, a cloud-based system with security, compliance and reliability features that government agencies require.

“We’re taking everything we do now and replicating that over into a completely different environment,” Dixon said. “It’s double the maintenance and double the work.”

But what could be even more work is teaching the counselors and veterans how to do something in a different way, Dixon said.

“People hate change, but they’ve been clamoring for change,” he said.

The software is now in its third release. The most recent version came out in September with additional counselor calendar functionality, different icons and buttons and a restructured database, Dixon said.

With the new contract, The Career Index has added four support staff locally, and is partnering with developers and a consulting company to help provide training.

“We’ll be using a ‘train the trainer’ model,” Dixon said. “We’ll train 150 of their trainers, who will train the rest of the field.”

The company has also leased a new office in the Innovation Den in downtown Coeur d’Alene.


Where TCI might go after this, Dixon isn’t sure.

“We’re starting to realize that SARA, and the impact it can have, is greater than the size of the company we are now,” he said. “We’re having those conversations internally now: How to get this resource, that could be of social impact, into areas we don’t have the resources to touch right now.”

Catching up with Continuous Composites as it breaks the mold in manufacturing

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John Swallow, left, and Tyler Alvarado, right, in the 1915 train depot Swallow restored for company offices. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

COEUR D’ALENE – Sometime in the next 12 to 30 months, Tyler Alvarado wants to revolutionize the manufacturing industry.

His company, Continuous Composites, was founded in 2015 and is already producing some products, though Alvarado’s focus is on bringing its technology to the mass market.

“We’ve strategically said no to a lot of customers,” Alvarado said. “At any one time, we could have a half dozen to a dozen. Our main goal is to commercialize the technology.”

Composite materials are a combination of two materials that, together, have superior features to either material alone, Alvarado said. Historical examples include tin and copper to make bronze as well as sand or gravel and cement to make concrete.

Typically, modern composite materials involve combining carbon with a plastic polymer. Together, they produce a light, strong material suited for applications where weight is a factor, such as in the aerospace industry.

Composite materials are typically thought of as expensive, but the materials themselves aren’t the problem, Alvarado said. The problem is that traditional composite manufacturing has required pouring the material in a mold, baking or curing it in an autoclave, and then cutting away all the parts not needed in the final product. Not only does that waste part of the material, but it demands connecting fasteners, which can add to 30% of the weight of the final product.

Additive manufacturing, such as 3D printing, can reduce or eliminate the requirement for a mold, but the product has to be flat while it’s printed.

“Traditional additive manufacturing is limited to stacking 2D layers,” Alvarado said.

And it can still require baking or curing in an autoclave, which can take up a lot of space.

Continuous Composites has developed a print head that not only combines the two materials on the fly but includes an ultraviolet light to cure the material as it’s extruded. Parts can be constructed essentially in mid-air without a later baking or curing process. The material is also anisotropic, meaning it can have different strengths in different directions, so the fibers can be printed in the direction of the stresses and strains they will receive, Alvarado said.

In addition, the process can embed materials such as copper wire, nichrome wire, fiber optics or LEDs into the part as it’s created, creating a sensor, Alvarado said.

The result has been a string of accolades, ranging from an Innovation Award at the JEC world composites show in Paris to an Early Stage Innovation of the Year from the Idaho Technology Council.

Continuous Composites recently announced a strategic partnership with Broomfield, Colorado-based Spatial Corp., though Alvarado wasn’t able to reveal the terms of the agreement.

“Our technology has three components: Hardware, software and materials,” Alvarado said. The challenge is that the software needed to drive the machines to orient the fibers in all directions doesn’t yet exist, he said.

“Spatial has an innovative, geometric, data-modeling kernel,” he said. “We’re building our software suite on top of their software suite.”

Continuous Composites is privately funded and has about 25 employees with another five to eight open positions, Alvarado said.

“What’s really neat is we’ve been importing tech talent from the area that had to relocate,” he said, not to mention one employee who had literally packed his car for a move to Seattle. All employees own a part of the company, he said, though he wouldn’t provide specifics.

Alvarado doesn’t have an exit strategy other than continuing to build the business. The company has more than 200 patented and patent-pending concepts on the technology, so it owns the intellectual property.

“There could come a day when someone wants to acquire a part of us,” he said. “Our sweet spot is R&D. We’re open to the conversation of acquisition.”

Helping revitalize downtown Coeur d’Alene

Unlike many industrial companies, Continuous Composites isn’t sequestered far outside of town. Instead, it is located in downtown Coeur d’Alene in a historic building across the street from the Innovation Den, the Coeur d’Alene incubator space. Tyler Alvarado’s business partner, John Swallow, also owns the 1915 former Coeur d’Alene train depot on the street corner, which he renovated. The two of them are in the process of renovating a warehouse in-between to house the company’s manufacturing robots.

Each building has about 5,500 square feet. The warehouse will have an additional 2,500-square foot mezzanine to house engineers.

The push to repurpose old buildings started with their first acquisition in 2014, McCallister Technical Services, which manufactures parts. Swallow and Alvarado considered moving the company to the Rathdrum Prairie area, which would have cost less, but something else was driving them.

“We wanted to be a part of economic development, investing in old buildings, and we wanted our employees to have a cool place to come to work,” Alvarado said. “It’s not financially the best decision, but there’s an intangible value of preserving old buildings and what it does for the community.”

Swallow invested $1 million in renovating the McCallister building, as well as several million in renovating the train depot. In 2015, he bought the depot annex where Continuous Composites is now located to make sure the site didn’t get redeveloped into a high-rise. Alvarado now leases the space from Swallow.

“We’ll be in downtown Coeur d’Alene as long as we can be in downtown Coeur d’Alene,” Alvarado said.

How high can Idaho go with its aerospace industry?

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High-school students practice flying a drone, safely caged, at the I-90 Corridor Aerospace Conference and Expo. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

COEUR D’ALENE – Idaho isn’t typically thought of as an aerospace hub, but the annual I-90 Aerospace Corridor Conference and Expo featured plenty of Idaho presence, ranging from individual vendors to a speaker postulating Mars colonies.

Originally, Idaho and Washington had separate aerospace industry associations and conferences, but four years ago, the organizations suggested working together, said Gynii Gilliam, president and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation.

That first year, the conference drew 89 attendees, and organizers were careful when scheduling the speakers – three from Idaho and three from Washington.

“We wanted to make sure the balance was there,” Gilliam said.

Now, it’s less of an issue, and the organizations are at a point where they say, “What difference does it make where they’re from?” Gilliam said.

The combined conference also had more clout and could convince people like the vice president of small business sales at Boeing to attend, Gilliam said.

“There’s a percentage of their sales they want to give to the small supply chain, and this is a big part all the way from Montana to Seattle,” she said.

About one-third of the exhibitors at the recent conference were Idaho companies, as well as a number of the speakers, including all three members of an additive manufacturing panel and two out of three members of an unmanned aerial vehicle panel.

Idaho has the potential to be a player in the aerospace industry, said J.C. Hall, board member and past chair of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA). The organization, based in Redmond, Washington, holds its own annual aerospace conference with more than 600 attendees and a focus on “B-to-B” – business-to-business – meetings where companies can look for partners, suppliers and customers, he said.

“The West Coast I-5 corridor is getting very expensive,” Hall said, and consequently a number of companies are moving eastward. “I don’t see any reason why Idaho can’t be part of it.”

The aerospace industry in North Idaho has become an employer of choice because it is higher paying than many other fields in Idaho, Gilliam said. At the same time, the cost of operations is much lower than those in Seattle and other coastal areas, she said. Airlines want lighter, more fuel-efficient planes but can only pay so much for them under pricing pressures from consumers, so finding a place to build parts cheaper helps keep costs down.

“Nobody wants to pay more because we don’t want to pay more for flights,” she said. “You have to push that all the way down the supply chain.”

Idaho is competing with states in the southeast U.S. that are investing money to attract the aerospace industry and courting companies at conventions nationwide , Hall warned. In addition, some states have three- to four-month aerospace training programs for potential employees, offering companies a ready-made workforce.

While Idaho does fund some aerospace companies to attend international aerospace trade shows, Hall said he doesn’t see the state funding training programs. North Idaho College does offer two-year programs in aviation maintenance and aerospace advanced manufacturing at its Aerospace Center in Hayden. Students in the latter program can also apply for a share of a $100,000 Metallica Scholars Initiative grant – funded by the band – to support career and technical education.

The school also partners with North Idaho companies that have a vested interest in gaining trained employees, such as ATC Composites in Post Falls, which makes 150 non-flight composite airplane parts, and Unitech Aerospace in Hayden, which makes a composite leading edge for the Boeing 777, Gilliam said.

“NIC is good at partnering,” she said. “We just need more bodies.”

Coeur d’Alene will get 46 luxury apartments across from City Hall

The Lake Apartments will open in fall in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Photo courtesy of Jim Schueler.

Downtown living in Coeur d’Alene will include 46 new upscale apartments this fall on Mullan Avenue across the street from City Hall.

The Lake Apartments will have three buildings that are linked on the second floor. The front building will be three stories and the rear pair two stories, said Jim Schueler, co-owner of the project.

The Lake will have seven studios, 23 one-bedroom units, 14 two-bed units and two three-bed units with monthly rents from $1,100 to $2,800, he said.

The studios will be 420 to 644 square feet; the one-bedroom units 557 to 745 square feet; the two-beds 800 to 1,548 square feet; and the three-beds 1,361 and 1,820 square feet.

“These are a little more spacious and higher-end than most (Coeur d’Alene apartments),” Schueler said. “We did a rent survey and there is definitely a need for more apartments.”

The Lake units all have wood floors, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliance and outside decks. There is covered parking, a dog area and storage for 20 bicycles.

The Lake Apartments will be luxury living across the street from Coeur d’Alene City Hall. Image courtesy of Jim Schueler.

“This is a biking community,” Schueler said. “They want an apartment and don’t even want to own a car. I have sons in their thirties. They say home ownership is nice but they don’t like all the other stuff that goes with it.”

The Lake Apartments are being built on 1.03 acres covering two city blocks on the site of a former 14-unit apartment building dating from the 1950s or 1960s, Schueler said.

Hamilton, Montana,-based CDA Partners Mullan LLC, composed of Schueler and Brian Glenn, are the project developers and owners.

Momentum Architecture of Coeur d’Alene is the architect. Yost Gallagher Construction of Spokane is the general contractor. Schueler did not disclose the construction cost.


First Staybridge Suites in Idaho starts construction in Coeur d’Alene

Staybridge Suites construction started in June in Coeur d’Alene. Photo courtesy of Tharaldson Hospitality Management.

Structural work started in mid-June on a 96-room Staybridge Suites in Coeur d’Alene.

The $18 million, five-story extended-stay hotel will be part of a complex with the Regal Cinemas Riverstone 14-screen movie theater, condominiums, shopping and restaurants in the five-year-old Village at Riverstone lifestyle center. The expected opening is in June 2019.

The hotel will be the first Staybridge Suites in Idaho and is owned, developed and will be operated by franchisee Tharaldson Hospitality Management of Fargo, North Dakota. It’s Tharaldson’s first hotel in the Pacific Northwest. The company, established in 2011, has 40 hotels in 14 states in a southwest cluster (California, Nevada and Arizona), in the Rust Belt states and mid-Atlantic states. Tharaldson’s most recent hotel, a Hampton Inn, opened in Sparks, Nevada, in May.

Five more Tharaldson hotels are expected to open before the Coeur d’Alene hotel is completed, said Joe Blagg, development and finance manager at Tharaldson Hospitality.

“The Pacific Northwest is an area we’ve been looking at heavily for the last three to five years,” Blagg said.

Tharaldson is also in the permitting stage for a 100-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Spokane Airport, expected to start construction in three or four months. Tharaldson is also seeking to open hotels in the Seattle and Portland areas, he said.

“It started with us looking at Spokane,” Blagg said. “We might as well investigate Coeur d’Alene as well. We can see what other hotels are doing. They are all doing really well year-round. There’s enough room for us to come in with 96 rooms.”

Tharaldson has no immediate plans for a second Idaho hotel.

“I’ve looked a couple times in Boise before,” Blagg said. “I would not rule out something in Boise in the future.”

The architect is DesignCell Architecture of Las Vegas, which designs all the Tharaldson hotels. Local assistance is provided by Verdis, a Coeur d’Alene development company. The general contractor is Tharaldson Hospitality Development of Las Vegas.

The Staybridge Suites is among 40 hotels in Idaho opened since 2015 or now under construction or planned with a combined 3,657 rooms.

Staybridge Suites is one of InterContinental Hotels Group’s 14 brands that include Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Staybridge Suites was launched in 1997 with apartment-style suites for extended stays.

Staybridge has 257 hotels with nearly 28,000 rooms open in 40 states, Europe and the Middle East.

Huge Coeur d’Alene apartment project starts construction

The Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place apartments will have 12 24-unit structures. Image courtesy of Thomas Anderl

Construction went vertical June 18 on the 294-unit Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place apartments, a project that will create one of the largest apartment communities in north Idaho when it’s finished in about two years.

Coeur d’Alene developer Tom Anderl is building 12 24-unit structures plus two 6,000-square-foot commercial structures that will each have three apartments above them and possibly a coffee shop and brew pub at street level.

The first 24-plex should be ready for residents in early November with subsequent buildings rolling out every six weeks after that, Anderl said.

About 30 percent of the units will be one bedroom/one bath. Forty percent  will be two-bed/two bath, and another 30 percent three-bed/two-bath. He said they will be market-rate but he did not have rental rates set.

“Certainly at the upper end,” Anderl said.

The Northern on 17.2 acres is being built next to Lake City High School in north-central Coeur d’Alene at Ramsey Road and Hanley Avenue, which Anderl describes as “Main Street and Main Street for residential growth” in Coeur d’Alene. The Northern is part of the 600-acre Coeur d’Alene housing development.

A year-round heated swimming pool will be one of the amenities at the Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place. Image courtesy of Thomas Anderl.

As in the Treasure Valley, apartment construction is abundant in northern Idaho, with the Northern “certainly among the biggest,” said Ben Widmyer, treasurer of the Idaho Apartment Association and a Coeur d’Alene developer.

“Two factors are in play,” Widmyer said. “Large population growth fuels more apartments. There is the generational thing. Younger generation and retiring people are choosing to rent.”

The Coeur d’Alene population grew 14.7 percent from 2010 to 2017 to reach 50,665, the fourth fastest growth rate among Idaho’s larger cities. Coeur d’Alene’s growth rate trails that of the neighboring Post Falls, where growth is happening at 20 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Spokane-based Bernardo|Wills Architects is the architect and JCW Construction of Hayden is the general contractor.

Anderl and attorney John Magnuson are also involved in a 400-acre housing development at the southern edge of Rathrum, 14 miles north of Coeur d’Alene. They are in the process of annexing the first 152 acres to Rathdrum to build a yet-undetermined number of single-family homes.

They will develop the land and sell it to homebuilders.

“Eventually, we want to bring all that property into the city of Rathdrum,” Anderl said.

The duo donated 7 acres to the Lakeland School District.

“The first 150 acres will help us with what to do with the balance (of the property),” he said.

Idaho Central Credit Union to build in Coeur d’Alene

rendering of new iccu coeur d'alene branch
Idaho Central Credit Union is building a new branch in Coeur d’Alene that will include office space. Rendering courtesy of ICCU.

The Idaho Central Credit Union is constructing a three-story building in Coeur d’Alene that will also include office functions.

Lisa Davis, social media strategist for the Chubbuck-based institution, said the new location will have more work space than the existing location does for the credit union’s back office workers. The ground floor will be used for a branch, while the second and third floors will be office space.

The building, to be known as the Appleway branch, is just over 25,000 square feet and is planned to cost about $8.6 million. The architect is LCA Architects and the contractor is J Addington General Contractors, Inc., Davis said.

ICCU has not yet decided what to do with the existing Coeur d’Alene branch on Government Way, Davis added.

The firm, which also has North Idaho branches in Post Falls, Hayden, and Pierce, contributed $10 million in January to the University of Idaho for naming rights to its planned basketball arena, and had indicated at the time that it planned to expand in the area as part of its plan to cover the state. In particular, ICCU said it planned to expand into Lewiston and Moscow, but it has not yet purchased property.

The company also recently remodeled its downtown Nampa branch to give it more space.

North Idaho Dermatology triples in size

North Idaho Dermatology is building a three-story office in Coeur d'Alene. Image courtesy of North Idaho Dermatology.
North Idaho Dermatology is building a three-story office in Coeur d’Alene. Image courtesy of North Idaho Dermatology.

The largest dermatology practice in northern Idaho is building a three-story structure nearly three times the size of its existing office on an adjacent lot in Coeur d’Alene.

North Idaho Dermatology started construction on the $6 million, 27,400-square foot building that will replace its 11,000-square-foot office, which it has used since the practice opened in 1999.

Since opening, North Idaho Dermatology has opened other offices in Sandpoint, Moscow and Liberty Lake, Wash., to become the largest Idaho dermatology practice north of Boise and similar in size to the largest dermatology practices in nearby Spokane, Washington, said Grant Ely, chief operating officer at North Idaho Dermatology.

The new office for North Idaho Dermatology should be completed in September. Photo courtesy of North Idaho Dermatology.
The new office for North Idaho Dermatology should be completed in September. Photo courtesy of North Idaho Dermatology.

The skin care provider has treated 80,000 individual patients with some patients coming from Spokane, Montana and Canada, Ely said.

“We’re running out of room,” said Ely, saying it generally takes about a month and a half to see a doctor. “We want to fulfill a goal of getting a patient to see a doctor the same week or the next day. We don’t want people to have to wait to see a dermatologist.”

North Idaho Dermatology has three dermatologists and five nurse practitioners and physician assistants in Coeur d’Alene and intends to add three, four or five more doctors in the next three years, Ely said.

The new building will have lobby and exam rooms on the first floor. Surgery will fill half of the second floor, with cosmetic treatments in the other half, and administrative offices and break room will be located on the third floor.

Construction started in October with completion expected Sept. 30 or earlier. Bernardo|Wills Architects of Spokane is the architect. Ginno Construction of Coeur d’Alene is the general contractor.


First Interstate buys Inland Northwest Bank

photo of first interstate
First Interstate Bank, in Kuna. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

In an effort to expand its Northwest presence, First Interstate BancSystem has announced its intention to purchase Northwest Bancorporation Inc, which operates in Washington and Idaho as Inland Northwest Bank. Inland Northwest has three branches in Idaho, two in Coeur d’Alene and one in Spirit Lake.

“Since entering the Pacific Northwest, we have developed a great appreciation for these markets, and had a strong desire to increase our franchise in this region,” Kevin Riley, president and CEO of First Interstate, said on an investors’ call. Based in Spokane, Inland Northwest is a community bank with 20 offices across Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, while First Interstate is based in Billings, Montana. “It fills in our footprint in the Pacific Northwest,” he said, including enhancing its presence in Portland, and entering the high-growth markets of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, particularly with the aerospace industry in Spokane, he said. The bank intends to continue operating all 20 of the existing offices, though not all the executives will make the move, Riley said.

The purchase is an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $160.9 million in aggregate, or $21.03 per share, the company said.

INB, a state-chartered community bank, currently has $826.8 million of assets, $669.0 million in loans, $721.0 million in deposits and $81.7 million in shareholders’ equity. After completion of the acquisition, First Interstate will have approximately $13.1 billion in total assets, $8.3 billion in total loans, $10.7 billion in total deposits, $1.5 billion in shareholders’ equity and 146 banking offices, the company said. First Interstate and Northwest expect to close the transaction late in the third or early in the fourth quarter of 2018, after satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and the approval of the Northwest shareholders, the company said.

photo of kevin riley
Kevin Riley

First Interstate might not be done acquiring, either. “There’s a lot of banks for sale out there,” Riley said. However, it has no plans to move into California and in general plans to stay within the six Northwest states in which it already operates, he said.

Riley, who also presented quarterly results, noted that the company earned 0.65 cents per quarter, a 27 percent increase, even with merger and severance impacts of 5 cents per share. He credited this growth to the 2017 acquisition of Cascade Bancorp, which operated as Bank of the Cascades, as well as the change in tax rates.

First Interstate purchased Bank of the Cascades in November 2016 for $589 million. It operates about a dozen branches in Idaho.