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Winter Adventure - Kellogg Goes Upscale 

by Kevin Taylor & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & O & lt;/span & K, so it used to be that writing a story about the ambience of Kellogg was pretty much like singing a paean to the aroma of socks. It just didn't go together. The feng shui was all twisted and wrong. It would short-circuit your head to try and fit ambience and Kellogg into the same sentence. No ambience. No milieu. No bohemian creative class slacker-jawed synergistic playful dynamism in the New Urban Village/Cool Cities construct.

Kellogg was more like a place where people know their way around a stick of dynamite, pitchers of red beer and the dead whitetail in the back of the truck parked outside the tavern.

Kellogg was... well, Kellogg was like socks. It was the rare place in North Idaho that lost population during the 1990s (down 7 percent according to census data).

That's all changing in a hurry, as the Silver Mountain Ski Area is changing the face of the old hard-rock mining valley. If Sandpoint has been anointed as the New Aspen, then Kellogg is the New Sandpoint as a city near a ski hill that is authentic, funky and affordable -- though maybe not for long.

Dede Farrell, a real estate agent with Miners Hat Realty -- yes, that's the building near Interstate 90 that looks like a miner's helmet -- moved to Kellogg five years ago from a place near Telluride, Colo.

"We lived in a ski town and things became very expensive," she says. "This was one of the last [ski resort towns] available that you could afford."

Five years ago, Farrell and her husband had their pick of houses for less than $70,000. The Superfund mine-waste cleanup wasn't a factor for them. Now, that stock of old, cheap houses is going fast. Since September of last year, Farrell says, a wave of people buying secondary houses has hit the market.

Also last fall, the 96 condominiums (in the second phase of Silver Mountain's village at the gondola base in Kellogg) sold out. In one day. Ski village life is coming to life in Kellogg, and you can check it out for yourself after an hour-long ride on two-lane I-90 from Spokane.

Locals hope to keep building on the successes. More condos -- as well as refurbished commercial buildings -- are proposed in Kellogg's downtown, just up the hill from the gondola station.

"We hope that with growth and new people we'll get better restaurants," Farrell says.

New restaurants, specialty shops and pubs -- where they would be aghast if you poured tomato juice into your beer -- are springing up.

Pretty soon, the City Council is going to pass a law that Kellogg must have ambience.

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