Spokane Journal of Business

Templin’s vision on target—twice

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POST FALLSWhen Bob Templin decided to build a hotel and resort on the banks of the Spokane River here in the mid-1980s, Post Falls was a bedroom community with so little happening that its City Hall was open just three days a week.

On the face of it, the little town between Spokane and Coeur dAlene, which was known mostly for lumber and grass seed, might not have seemed a likely tourist destination. Templin, however, had a knack for identifying potential. He previously had built a restaurant and hotel on a piece of lakeshore property that basically was a log-strewn dump when he found ita project that later became part of the Coeur dAlene Resort.

Templin has been visionary in looking at what could be, out of what is kind of a mess, says Jim Hammond, Post Falls city administrator and a longtime Templin acquaintance.

In 1983, Templin lost control of his lakefront hotel in Coeur dAlene, and 17 other hospitality operations that he owned or managed, in a hostile corporate takeover orchestrated by North Idaho businessman Duane Hagadone. Hagadone later rebuilt the North Shore Resort into the Coeur dAlene Resort.

While the episode caused Templin pain at the time, he now says hes past all that, and you believe him.

I turned 80 in September, and what comes to mind real paramount is family time, Templin says. At my age, you just hope and pray that your health will continue and you can keep active in family affairs, your church, and your community.

Some men may have spent the rest of their lives wondering why me? after losing control of a business empire theyd built up over nearly 40 years. Templin, however, looked east a few miles to Post Falls, where he and his wife, Mary, had just finished building a home.

Templins former business, Western Frontier Corp., had owned a TJs Pantry in Post Falls, and, We had a real good experience with that restaurant, he says. Whats more, I kept thinking about the freeway and the river that run parallel through Post Falls, Templin says.

He decided to take a gamble on building another resort using some of the money hed received in the buyout of Western Frontier, this time in Post Falls, and was supported in that decision by his sidekick and partner and inspiration, Mary, he says.

Construction of Best Western Templins Resort started in 1985, and the facility opened on the north bank of the Spokane River the next year, with 62 rooms. Two subsequent additions gave the hotel a total of 167 rooms, a conference center, indoor and outdoor restaurants, and a 74-slip marina.

Kim Brown, past president of the Post Falls Historical Society, says Templins project was built on land once owned by the towns founder, Frederick Post, and she sees a pleasing symmetry in that.

Templins Resort is the second wave, you might say, of German immigrant development down there, Brown says, referring to the fact that Post and Templins parents both came to America from Germany. It just so happens that many of (Templins) properties are on the original townsite.

Once established in Post Falls, Templin vigorously worked to improve his adopted hometown.

He lays claim to dreaming up Post Falls slogan, the River City and was instrumental in the development of Falls Park, a 22-acre spot on the Spokane River that provides scenic views of Post Falls dam, Post Falls, and the river gorge. He has been active in the Post Falls Chamber of Commercegoing so far as to provide a building to house the agencyand was a driving force in forming an urban-renewal agency, which helped attract the big Harpers manufacturing plant on Seltice Way, now known as flexcel.

It was a substantial risk for Bob to invest in this community, but it was kind of a turning point, Hammond says.

In recent years, Post Falls has been one of the fastest-growing communities in Idaho, with its population more than doubling from 1990 to 2001, to about 18,000. Post Falls issued more than $28 million worth of building permits in the last five years, and has added commercial businesses along with many new homes.

Templin says hes no prophetanyone can see that a town that sits in the middle of a population of more than half a million is likely to thrive. He said in 1996 that his one regret was that Post Falls didnt have a defined downtown core, but in recent years hes done his best to change that, too.

He tried several times to put together investment groups to buy the old Louisiana-Pacific Corp. sawmill site on the Spokane River, just west of Templins resort. He long had said the mill site would make an ideal downtown for Post Falls. He introduced Spokane developer Harry Green to the property, which Green bought in 2001 and plans to develop with housing, retail, and office space.

I was extremely elated by Greens plans, Templin says.

Templin sold his resort in 1998 to Spokane-based Cavanaughs Hospitality Corp.now WestCoast Hospitality Corp.because he was getting older and none of his three children had followed him into the hotel business. He expresses some regret about that, saying his kids might feel differently about running the hotel if they had the opportunity now.

He served for a time on WestCoasts board, but retired from that position, too. Templin confesses that he sometimes misses being involved day-to-day in the hospitality industry, where he spent his entire career.

Born and raised in Ritzville, Wash., he got his start in the restaurant business as a teenager. After returning from a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, he and his brother, Del, pooled their money and opened a restaurant in Ritzville. Templins Grill was an overnight success, Templin said in 1996.

The brothers expanded the operation in 1946 by buying a caf at the corner of First Street and Sherman Avenue, in downtown Coeur dAlene, which also became Templins Grill. Templin says he met a lot of people in those years, including his wife. He offered free meals to servicemen and to people who were struggling to make ends meet.

He saw in Coeur dAlene the potential for a tourist destination, and turned Templins Grill into the North Shore Resort, a hotel and conference center that featured Idahos first rooftop restaurant.

Other properties owned by his Western Frontier Corp. included eight TJs Pantry restaurants, the Holiday Inn in Coeur dAlene, and the University Inn Best Western, in Moscow, Idaho.

Templin says he believes Hagadone began to covet his businesses after the media magnate built a waterfront office in Coeur dAlene, and heard that another waterfront property owner had plans to build condominiums nearby.

Duane got to thinking, Ooooh, Templin says.

Hes very visionary, he says of Hagadone, but adds, I think he gets a lot more fun out of building projects than running them.

Templin, who maintains an office in his former resort in Post Fallswhich now is called the Red Lion Templins Hotel on the Riversays he gets a hotel-industry fix simply by being there. He spends most of his time in the office, though, managing his familys real-estate portfolio, which includes 24 parcels in Post Falls. He owns the Milltown Center, a 13,000-square-foot strip center thats mostly filled with service businesses, and a whole bunch of properties up and down Spokane Street that we still would like to see developed, he says.

Templin says he potential tenants for those spots because I have not been as fortunate as some people, who have a Realtor who seems to have a halo around his head.

He thinks that the future of that area is medical and multifamily housing, but in general, he believes Post Falls will continue to expand.

The future of Post Falls is growth, and it wont hurt us if its directed and planned properly, Templin says. Luckily, I think were blessed with really good people. Post Falls people stick together.

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