Developer committed to bringing in restaurant

Lower Valley businessman Gary Christensen has always been a go-getter when it comes to business. Christensen is moving full steam ahead with plans to develop property he owns near The Outpost along Interstate 82.

Christensen, who owns and operates R.E. Powell Distributing and The Outpost, also owns the 21-plus acres of land on the site of the historic barn overlooking Interstate 82.

Plans to move ahead with the development of the property took a major step forward earlier this year when Tom Denlea purchased 70,000 square feet of land from Christensen to build a two-story Best Western motel. Christensen said the Best Western should be completed for opening by the end of July or the first week of August.

But since news broke about the motel, which is adjacent to the barn, Christensen has been flooded with contacts about bringing additional business to the area.

"We have had probably three to five calls per week," said Christensen. "Hopefully, we will see that develop."

Christensen said the business contacts have been with people wanting to build a restaurant or a winery on the land.

Within the next few months, Christensen expects to have all of the needed infrastructure in place to support new business development on his property. Some of the infrastructure improvements include widening of the roads in the area, paving the entry ways and roads into the property and the installation of utilities, including street lighting. There are also plans to level out the hill that leads up to the barn, said Christensen.

Christensen said there has been a lot of interest in putting a winery in the barn or the area around the barn. He added there have been contacts from national restaurant chains, but said nothing has been set in stone. Christensen said he would like to see a restaurant chain, such as Denny's, that can offer 24-hour service go into the area. Christensen said he would eventually like to see two restaurants on the property, one being a fast, affordable eatery and the other more of a steak house type business.

If Christensen is unable to land a national restaurant chain on his property, he has personally committed to developing a restaurant on the site.

"I would really like to see something develop (with a restaurant) within the next year," said Christensen.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at


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