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Whitefish city council denies 300-unit housing project

Illustration of the proposed Mountain Gateway project in Whitefish.
ARIM Mountain Gateway
Illustration of the proposed Mountain Gateway project in Whitefish.

The Whitefish City Council Monday denied a large housing project at the base of the local ski resort. Opponents said it would lead to traffic issues and impact current neighborhoods, while advocates say the city desperately needs more housing.

The Mountain Gateway project would have constructed a roughly 300-unit apartment complex. A little over 30 of those apartments would have been donated to the city’s affordable housing program. The developer also offered to donate over 10 acres to the city so it could develop its own affordable housing project and build a fire station.

The Whitefish City Council voted 5-1 against it.

Council member Rebecca Norton said she liked some aspects of the project, but that wasn’t enough.

“The overwhelming opposition is the tell for me that we’re not moving in the right direction for a number of people,” Norton says. 

Opposition to the project has mounted due to concerns over traffic to and from the development at the base of Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. Concerns about how the project would impact local neighborhoods that consist of mostly upscale single-family homes were also raised.

Sky-high home prices in Whitefish have been the hallmark of the housing crisis in the Flathead Valley, which has seen an influx of new residents and a severe shortage of homes to meet demand.

Steve Qunell was the lone council member to vote in favor of the Mountain Gateway project.

“What we’re about to do is send the message that Whitefish is closed to the working class,” he says.

Some council members encouraged the developer to return with changes to the project, but for the moment it is effectively dead.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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