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Developers eye Wild Waters lot for apartments

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | February 25, 2021 1:08 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — While fans of the old Wild Waters amusement park enjoyed its twists and turns on hot summer afternoons, developers are taking a bit of a wild ride of their own trying to build on the now-vacant and empty grounds along Interstate 90.

Government Way Coeur d’Alene Hotel, a limited liability company formed out of Braintree Properties, is requesting a hearing in front of the Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission for an R-34 special use permit that would allow the Boise company to turn the vacant lot into a residential apartment complex.

The Boise LLC has invested the last two years in the design review process to develop a hotel on the grounds of the once-popular attraction. Hilary Anderson, community planning director for the city, said Wednesday the special use permit to convert the current zoning designation of C-17 to R-34 doesn’t necessarily mean those hotel plans have been abandoned.

“They’re exploring the possibility of an R-34,” Anderson said. “The hotel was the original plan, but with market conditions changing — with COVID-19 changing the market — they’re looking at the possibility of putting in apartments. But they’re wanting to keep their options open.”

Even if the R-34 is rejected, a C-17 allows the developers to install apartments on the nearly 7-acre lot, though obviously not as many.

R-34 plans submitted by Braintree aim for a five-story, 232-unit complex of two L-shaped buildings that essentially create an open square in the center. Its address technically resides on Government Way, as the access point for the lot feeds into the Coeur d’Alene arterial.

Anderson said the plans come attached with some interesting perks.

“That’s one unique thing they’ve done with these plans,” Anderson said. “They’ve been thoughtful with providing some amenities on site. If approved, it would have its own little dog park, and a pocket park, and a trail connection along (U.S.) 95. There’d be areas for bike storage and a bike repair area, as well. They’d do some things to promote an outdoor lifestyle.”

The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled 5:30 p.m. March 9 in the Community Room. The hearing is open to the public, but due to limited capacity guidelines because of COVID-19, the commission is encouraging participation via Zoom.

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The land that once held the old Wild Waters water park sits empty alongside the La Quinta Inn. Developers have long-considered converting the land into a hotel, but COVID-19's impact on the travel marketplace has those same developers now considering an apartment complex. (CRAIG NORTHRUP/Press)