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Ridgewater Development explained

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POLSON — Introducing local developer Mike Maddy as the “kingpin of Ridgewater,” Polson Pachyderm president Freeman Robinson kicked off an hour of information at the Feb. 27 meeting about what’s happening in the Ridgewater subdivision south of Polson. 

“No Applebee’s is coming,” Maddy said, to laughter from the crowd, as he scotched the rumor that’s been pulsing through Polson for a couple of years. 

“Taco Bell — they are coming,” he said. 

The franchise will be between O’Reilly Auto Parts and Valley Glass and will open sometime this summer, according to Maddy.

Valley Glass, a local business, is currently being built in Ridgewater to be close to other construction and to have more of a presence on the highway, he explained. 

Construction of a Red Lion Hotel and MacKenzie River Pizza is ongoing. 

The restaurant will be 5,000 square feet, Maddy said, and the convention center will offer 2,500 square feet, enough to handle 300 people.

“The Red Lion is going to be the most high-tech hotel in the state,” he said, since the hotel can benefit from Polson Clinic’s computer lines.

Maddy said bankers wouldn’t let them build a hotel unless they went with a franchise. 

“Red Lion is the only franchise that wouldn’t make us build a flat-topped building,” he said. “We really want it to look like Montana, not like California. The outside of the building is looking pretty Montana-y.” 

Connie Plaissay commented on moving “that pile of beautiful compost,” referring to a hill directly west of construction.

The giant pile of sawdust, approximately 200,000 yards, mixes well with the sandy loam soil, adding nutrients. It is being spread six inches deep over the hillside, but it won’t be visible after the grass grows, Maddy said.  

Another audience member asked about the water compact. 

“The compact issue is very complex,” Maddy said. “We personally support it.”

Asked about what’s happening on 15th Street, Maddy said, “It’s a sore subject.” 

He believes that Ridgewater Drive should connect with both 15th Street East and Claffey Drive. 

“As a developer, having dead ends is an easy sell because people want to live on a dead end,” Maddy said, “but it’s horrible planning. With 5,000 people in Polson, we should look at the benefits for all, not for a few people.” 

Maddy gave a brief overview of Ridgewater. He bought the property in 1999, worked through issues, and in 2006 received approval for the Cougar Ridge subdivision. Maddy has always worked with realtor Dennis Duty.

The subdivision’s name was changed to Ridgewater in 2007. It’s 63 acres of commercially zoned property, 80 acres of multifamily zoned and 250 single-family lots that are on the hill south of the Mission Valley Aquatic Center.

Houses began sprouting on the hill in 2005.

“All of a sudden, everything stopped,” Maddy said, referring to the recession. 

After that “the first thing that happened was the Mission Valley Aquatic Center,” Maddy said.

The state-of-the-art aquatic center was built on land donated by Ridgewater Properties.   

First Citizen’s Bank bought property in 2007 and is thinking about a kiosk “maybe this year,” Maddy said. 

Kalispell Regional Medical Center approached Maddy and Duty about building a larger Polson health clinic and bought six acres.   

Things are popping at Ridgewater. Maddy said he and Duty have been talking to three gyms; a Kalispell builder who plans a space for a physical therapist, dentist and a mental health professional; Starbuck’s; and preliminary thoughts of assisted living facilities with graduated care.

Maddy also announced he bought the Mission Mountain Golf Course in Ronan. He plans to keep a restaurant in the clubhouse, and market a plan to have people golf in Polson one day, stay the night and hit the Ronan links the next day.  

“Towns in Montana were built over hundreds of years, just piecemeal. We have the advantage at Ridgewater. We have a blank piece of paper. We can improve transportation; we’re huge believers in planning, bike paths and the pool.” Maddy said.

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