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Affordable housing development planned

by Brian Walker
| November 29, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - A 108-acre, mixed-use project planned for the Rathdrum Prairie is being touted as an effort to put the construction industry back to work by offering affordable homes.

Coeur d'Alene-based MCD Properties, which consists of principles Chuck Lempesis, John Magnuson and Tom Anderl, will request annexation of the site at the northwest corner of Spokane Street and Prairie Avenue.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the Ashworth proposal on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.

"This project would put people back to work," Lempesis said. "I'm not going to watch my neighbors starve if I have anything to say about it. What our economy is really based on is the building industry."

At the end of the expected seven-year buildout, the project will include 450 single-family homes expected to cost between $120,000 and $200,000 each, 200 apartment units on 10 acres and 20,000 square feet of commercial or office space on 3 acres.

"It's a modest amount of commercial," Lempesis said. "We want to build a store or gas station so people don't have to drive across town."

More than 6 acres of open space, including pocket parks and a bus stop, and a network of trails are planned.

"The streetscape will be very attractive," Lempesis said. "This project will be a lot different from what people envision for entry level."

The first three years will consist of only single-family homes, including Craftsman and Victorian style. Some homes will have garages in the back. The multi-family portion is slated to start the fourth year and commercial the fifth year.

"Rooftops and users will drive the need for the commercial construction, and therefore we estimate that approximately half of the residential portion of the project will need to be built and occupied before there is a substantial commercial demand," the project narrative states.

Lempesis said that, if the annexation is approved, he expects construction to start around March. Homes will be built based on pre-sales.

The site, currently used as farmland, border's the city's future land application property on its north side.

Lempesis said the proponents are working with neighbors on buffering ideas to address density concerns. Some of the adjacent properties are at least 5 acres.

Lempesis said the project conforms with the city's comprehensive plan and is a logical extension of the city's boundaries.

The council allowed the project to enter the public hearing process on July 1, 2008. Lempesis said the formal annexation request was delayed until the city finished its SmartCode, the new land-use guide that encourages pedestrian-friendly mixed-use villages and is intended to avoid sprawl.

"We're among the first SmartCode projects and we wanted to be partners with the city on that," Lempesis said.

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