Council approves valuation for City Beach land swap, sets public hearing date

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

After more than a year of hints and intimations, the Sandpoint City Council heard some concrete figures regarding the City Beach land swap at its Oct. 21 meeting. The proposal before city officials is whether to trade a portion of city-owned property immediately to the east of the Edgewater Best Western Hotel and Trinity at City Beach, in exchange for the current RV park owned and operated by Sand-Ida Inc. to the south of the hotel across Bridge Street.

Though underscoring that no decisions have been made, City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton told council members that the city-owned property — a grassy swath of land that runs to the shoreline at the Windbag Marina — referred to as parcel No. 1 is worth $2.66 million. Meanwhile, parcel No. 2, the RV park, which includes frontage along Sand Creek, is assessed at $2.9 million.

A preliminary design for the proposed new hotel site at the Edgewater in Sandpoint. Courtesy image.

Owners of the hotel, the Cox family, have long planned to knock down the existing building and rebuild with a different brand of lodging and a larger footprint — doubling occupancy to 100 rooms, increasing outdoor seating and bringing in additional convention space. That won’t be possible, they argue, without additional property at the site. The city, meanwhile, wants to move and expand portions of the City Beach parking and boat launch facilities — a component of the sweeping Parks and Recreation Master Plan that would be made easier with the proposed land swap.

With the respective property values established, the City Council set a public hearing on the proposed property exchange for Wednesday, Nov. 18, while Stapleton said Sand-Ida intends to demolish the hotel building after Labor Day 2021 with reopening preliminarily scheduled for spring 2023. 

Though the city and its corporate partners have lauded the deal as a “win-win” — including for the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad company, which as Great Northern Railroad originally deeded the property to the city — some have argued that the city shouldn’t be trading away some of its precious waterfront property to the benefit of private business. 

To that, Stapleton told council members that Sand-Ida has committed to city staff that the corporation will continue to allow public access to the grassy area in front of the hotel. She said both properties are fee-simple owned by the city and Sand-Ida. The GN Railroad transferred its property to the city for $1 while Sand-Ida acquired its parcel directly from the railroad.

The public presentation will take place at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the council chambers at Sandpoint City Hall. Participate remotely via Zoom at

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