Plan to move forward to turn the old Columbia Falls high school into a senior citizen’s residence


The Columbia Falls School District is set to move forward with a proposal from developer Mick Ruis to turn the old Columbia Falls high school into senior housing.

Ruis envisions a multigenerational facility with housing for the elderly. He said he wanted to use the school’s gyms for his Ruis Wrestling Academy, which has more than 50 young wrestlers, including girls, in its ranks.

Ruis was the only developer to submit a proposal for the school. He offered the district $ 550,000 for the building.

“The Ruis team has a vision for intergenerational interaction between the seniors, children and young adults of the community as well as revitalizing an existing structure in Columbia Falls as the community grows and flourishes,” said declared Ruis in the candidacy to the school district.

Columbia Falls Schools Superintendent Dave Wick told the school board at last week’s meeting that the district had set aside $ 1.3 million bond issue to demolish the old high school, nearly half of which was intended solely for asbestos reduction.

The next step in the process would be to have a formal survey done and work on the building’s restrictive covenants.

Larry Wilson, a board member, asked if the purchase price could be used to reduce the amount of the bond. District Clerk Dustin Zuffelato noted that the funds would likely be better used for the high school, which needs heating and cooling improvements. The high school was built in 1959.

The old college, according to the Ruis plan, would have around thirty housing units.

If the board approves the final project, Ruis said he would get funding immediately.

He has already completed several projects in Columbia Falls, including condominiums on Nucleus Avenue and Glacier Courtyards on Fifth Street. He also built the Cedar Creek Lodge and is working on a project for more housing and commercial space in the Town Square.

The city has also just approved a 102-unit housing project on Meadow Lake Boulevard to be built by Ruis.

In Kalispell, he’s transforming old downtown grain elevators into a dining and housing complex, and he’s also completed housing and commercial projects in Whitefish.

In California, he also carried out a few housing projects.


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