Right now, River’s Edge is developing about 25 acres of property along the Spokane River in Coeur d’Alene. The project entails the construction of 384 apartment units, as well as a storage facility and 28 single-family homes. The project has been approved by the City of Coeur d’Alene on a site located south of Seltice Way between Atlas Road to the East, and the U.S. Bank Call Center to the West.
In the coming months, River’s Edge will be asking the City of Coeur d’Alene to revisit the approval, and to rezone all of the property, which is currently a mix of commercial and residential, to all residential use. The changes that are part of the proposal will allow River’s Edge to expand housing opportunities on the property in place of the storage units and single family homes. More critically, however, it will also provide a significant public benefit in the form of a 40-foot public access trail along the riverfront. This includes a public biking and walking trail, as well as public beach facilities, tables, and viewing and seating areas for people to enjoy Spokane River views.
We anticipate that these changes will be a welcome modification of the plan for local residents, who expressed disappointment that the present plan does not provide enough public access to the river. However, we are also aware that some residents of Coeur d’Alene who objected to the project opposed it not so much on the basis of the project itself, but in general opposition to increased development and growth in Coeur d’Alene. We would also like to address some of those concerns.
Is Coeur d’Alene’s Growth Good?
For starters, we do acknowledge that this frustration is somewhat understandable. The Coeur d’Alene area is experiencing a marked growth in population. However, the growth in the community is not as dramatic or drastic as it may appear. A graph of Coeur d’Alene’s growth shows that population trends have remained fairly steady and constant since about the 1970’s. The fact is, Coeur d’Alene is simply a desirable place to live.
We believe the idea that growth should be a cause for alarm is really a question of perspective. Certainly, it is understandable that people who appreciate Coeur d’Alene’s character do not welcome changes that may be detrimental to that character. But at the same time, the area’s growth is a testament to all the things that Coeur d’Alene and Northern Idaho get right: its healthy outdoor lifestyle, its unmatched natural beauty, its friendly people, and its self-reliant, can-do, independent and freedom-loving spirit!
In short, all the reasons for Coeur d’Alene’s growth are things that should be celebrated. The fact that people outside the region find these things attractive enough to relocate here should hearten the local community. Since the character of the area is its salient feature, locals should have some confidence that the people moving to the area are probably willing to uphold the values that make Coeur d’Alene such a desirable place to live.
It should also be remembered that much of the growth here is organic: those who grew up here want to stay here and raise their own families. That is a good thing. The community should do what it can to enable the people who grew up here to put down their own roots and continue to live and thrive here.
What Are the Alternatives?
While people can lament the growth of the Coeur d’Alene area, opposing growth does not really resolve the problem of growth that people object to. It will not preserve the city’s character or keep “outsiders” out. Experience shows that limiting growth will not improve things for the existing local population; in many ways, it will further spur unwelcome changes.
We have already seen housing prices climb dramatically in the last two years. This is great for people who sell, but not so great for people who buy . . . unless they have deep pockets. And, as we have seen, many of the deep pockets are not the local population, but people from outside the area. If housing supply is limited, house prices and rental rates climb. Other concerns include locals being motivated to sell at the top of the market and move out of the area. Similarly, their children may not be able to afford to buy or even rent. So, instead of growth, the result is displacement of the local population, and the consequent loss of the people who give this area the character that it has.
Despite many people resenting growth, it is something the community should be thankful for. Many parts of the country are experiencing declines right now: house prices dropping, communities being deserted, jobs disappearing. For us, growth means employment and economic vitality, which will benefit the area in terms of resources and opportunities.
Certainly, the River’s Edge developers have a financial objective in advancing the River’s Edge project, but our success ultimately depends on creating something that fills a need and that attracts a willing market. Our goal is to make River’s Edge a welcome addition to Coeur d’Alene for both prospective tenants as well as the people who are already invested in the community. To this end, we have made changes to the plan that we believe will improve the quality of life for all stakeholders.
The new riverfront esplanade is an ideal way to make River’s Edge a more attractive place to live, and a space where locals can mingle, meet, play, and relax. We hope to make it a recreational destination within easy walking distance of both our apartment residents as well as local neighbors.
For more information about the River’s Edge riverfront esplanade proposal, please review the maps and details on our website. We hope you will support these changes, and will add your voice to the public discussion, urging the City of Coeur d’Alene to adopt our proposal.