Moments before he broke ground on the first phase of a 240-acre housing development planned for south Moscow, Mayor Bill Lambert said he envisioned the Palouse becoming the Silicon Valley of northern Idaho.

“That’s how I see it,” Lambert said.

Lambert performed the ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday morning with a golden shovel in front of approximately 50 people to celebrate the start of the Edington Subdivision on West Palouse River Drive.

The new subdivision is near the 150-acre property designated for the new Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories circuit board factory. The mayor mentioned SEL, as well as Moscow-based EMSI and the local universities as reasons why people are attracted to living in the city.

Andrew Crapuchettes, former CEO of EMSI, owns the Edington Subdivision property and said Thursday his goal is to provide families choosing to live on the Palouse with more affordable housing options.

“My goal in this project is to make housing more affordable, to make Moscow more beautiful and to not lose my shirt, because I do not look good without a shirt on,” he joked.

Crapuchettes said he wants to offer home buyers a 1,500-1,600-square-foot home with a garage and other appealing amenities for $300,000.

Workers from Germer Construction Inc. will begin moving soil this summer to begin phase one, which Crappuchettes said involves preparing 28 acres for 103 build sites.

The subdivision will feature row houses with an alley system built behind the homes. The garages will also be built at the back of the homes to allow space for front doors and front porches. The alley system will help mitigate traffic and “build community,” Crapuchettes said.

“Because when you have front doors and front porches and you have less traffic on the street, it’s a lot easier to be playing outside,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to be part of a community there.”

Rick Beebe, a project adviser and father of the project developer Rich Beebe, said the new housing is important for the future because more young people see Moscow as a place they want to live, work and raise a family.

“It’s just a great thing for the city of Moscow,” he said.

To make the housing more affordable, he is working with Nils Peterson, executive director of the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust, on a program to loan people $60,000 for a down payment on their home.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the new subdivision. During a June 7 Moscow City Council meeting several people spoke in opposition to the project during the public hearing and no one spoke in favor of the project besides the applicants. Those who opposed shared concerns about potential water supply issues and increased vehicular traffic on West Palouse River Drive and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Some councilors voiced concerns that Edington Subdivision could potentially bring excessive traffic on Conestoga Drive. Bill Belknap, deputy city supervisor of community planning and design, said traffic calming measures can be implemented if traffic becomes an issue.

Lambert on Thursday briefly mentioned that the city will address the water concerns.

“We’re going to work on the water issue and it is going to come in front of us and we need to get it solved,” he said.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com

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