• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

C-Falls sees strong demand for commercial real estate

ByWillie M. Evans

May 8, 2022

A zip line. A former used car sales ground. A historic hotel.

These are just a few of the commercial properties that have come up for sale in recent months as the housing boom in and around Columbia Falls continues.

David Girardot, a real estate broker at Pure West Real Estate, said demand continues to be high in the area, with buyers making what is known as 1031 trades in larger markets.

A 1031 exchange is a real estate investment tool that allows investors to exchange one investment property for another and defer any capital gains or losses or capital gains tax they would otherwise have to pay to the time of sale. This method is popular with investors looking to upgrade properties without having to pay taxes for the proceeds.

Locally, several notable properties have hit the market.

The Izaak Walton Inn in Essex and the Halfway Hotel are listed for sale at $17.95 million.

The hostel is on a 100 acre campus just outside of Glacier National Park off Highway 2. It is also a stop for Amtrak and offers great cross country skiing as well as access to the Great Bear Wilderness. The Halfway Hotel is further east on the road.

Both properties are privately owned by Brian Kelly.

Glacier Ziplines are also for sale on US 2 in Columbia Heights.

Unlike the inn, it doesn’t include any property, just the business, tower and amenities, for $449,000, noted Girardot, who is brokering the sale.

The business operates on Crown-owned land under a lease.

Another notable property is the former Joe’s Auto Sales. The owners have retired, noted broker Tim Killen of Keller Williams Real Estate.

It is listed at $1.62 million and sits on one acre of land.

Girardot draws up an annual assessment of commercial real estate in the valley. He noted that the demand for industrial space of 15,000 to 25,000 square feet has been particularly high.

“Demand for industrial sites with buildings over 20,000 square feet continues to outstrip supply. The decline in the number of sales for 2021 is due to a lack of industrial building inventory,” he said in his annual report after 2021.

Marijuana companies increased demand as Montana legalized recreational use.

A key demand metric is the number of days a property is listed.

In 2020, for example, retail listings were on the market for an average of 201 days. In 2021, 136 days.