By BRIAN WALKER
COEUR d'ALENE — When Charlie Nipp was asked which areas of Kootenai County would grow the most over the next 20 years, the local business property guru couldn't resist.
"Cemeteries are the first place that come to mind," quipped the Parkwood Business Properties owner and manager, referring to the magnet for seniors North Idaho has become.
Nipp and John Young, president of Young Construction Group of Idaho, delivered their predictions of the real estate frontier as guest speakers of the 12th annual Coldwell Banker Commercial Market Forum at the Kroc Center on Thursday.
Turning to his real answer to the growth question, Nipp said the next corridors to take off will be Highway 41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum, the old Atlas mill site on the Spokane River, downtown around the new parking garage, and in the medical hubs.
Highway 41 will be widened next year and finish in 2021.
"That will impact our region significantly," Nipp said.
He called the residential Tullamore development in that Post Falls corridor a "commuter's bullseye" given its close proximity to all of the area's major cities.
With two urban renewal districts proposed and annexations planned in Rathdrum, more growth is also destined for the north side of the prairie, he said.
Nipp said with One Lakeside high-rise condos being constructed on Lakeside Avenue in Coeur d'Alene, combined with other projects such as the Innovation Den and parking garage just a little farther east, Lakeside is blossoming into a bustling street.
"There's great development potential there," he said.
Nipp said One Lakeside will be a great addition to the region.
"Every successful downtown needs sleeping beds and office space," he said.
Nipp said the desire to live downtown has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.
Young said commercial construction trends will be toward health care, especially with the growth in retirees, boutique shops, specialty stores and school buildings with multiple levies proposed in March.
"There's been major changes in the retail landscape," he said, referring to big boxes giving way to online shopping options.
Nipp said that trend has made developers rethink their building strategies.
"Most retailers are thinking smaller spaces and shorter terms," he said.
Young said having a trained workforce to fill the construction jobs will continue to be a concern in the coming years.
"The baby boomers are continuing to retire and the labor market continues to be tight," he said. "It's a societal issue. We've got to get out of our comfort zone and get involved with our school systems to create a better workforce for our future."
The political climate and threat of tariffs have wreaked havoc on the supply chain, putting further pressure on the construction industry.
"That makes it challenging for long-term development timeframes," he said.
Affordability must be addressed, Nipp said.
"We have service industry workers who are having to live in the Silver Valley," he said.
Young also has demographic concerns.
"Those in the service industry are not the ones buying homes; they're moving into apartments," Young said. "It's great that we're building so many homes, but we also need more businesses that have high-value jobs to bring more balance to our economic base."
Nipp said he's optimistic about Kootenai County's future, especially with its beauty, natural resources and huge health care demand spurred on by the senior population.
"Look at the person next to you," Nipp said. "They're probably a candidate for the health care system."