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Plans for Whitefish resort are halted

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Oct 16 2013 06:25:47 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 16 2013 06:39:27 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A multimillion dollar resort in the Flathead is a no-go, and that means hundreds of jobs not realized.

The project was expected to have a 150-room hotel, a year-round ice skating facility, and an indoor 45,000 sq. ft. water park.

With the spike in tourism in the Flathead, its little wonder the project is already being looked at by other developers.

It's easy to see why consulting firms are interested in a resort in Whitefish.

Hospitality marketers international put together a report on a resort project in Whitefish that has since been ditched.

Montana Economic West Development hired the group to help with the project, since the initial developer has backed out due to health concerns. NBC Montana looked through their report, and one of the big items they talked about was the convention center.

"Right now our conference facilities in the city are somewhat limited,” said Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Director Kevin Gartland.

He thinks there's a need for the facility. The idea is simple -- Whitefish is a winter town looking to make money year-round.

"We're really looking to take those other eight to nine months of the year to boost occupancy at all our hotel properties, bring more people to town, put more people in the restaurants and shops and all of the other businesses," Gartland said.

Up until last month, business boosters like the consulting firm supported a big project that fell apart in August.

The project was expected to be built in an undeveloped part of land off of Stelle Lane behind the Whitefish Hills, located off of Highway 93. 

While the developer's gone, the project's not dead, and that's where the report comes in. Consultants will use it to match up with a developer for a new project -- something that Montana Economic Development President Kellie Danielson says is in the works.

"The consultant does have a chain that he says is asking questions and show interest.  What the level of interest is I'm not sure yet but we are asking the consultant to pursue that opportunity," said Danielson.

The initial developer was raising all of the funds himself and talking with investors, so none of the project's money will be wasted as the project has had no affect on the tax payers.