Les Schwab to build prototype store on old Lucky Strike property

Site plan

By Martin Kidston

A Salt Lake City firm with a history of redeveloping Missoula properties plans to raze the old Five Valleys bowling alley and replace it with several commercial buildings, including a new Les Schwab tire store.

Les Schwab will then vacate it’s current store on Brooks Street and place the half-acre property up for sale.

At a regular monthly meeting of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency on Thursday, Kraig Erickson of the Woodbury Corporation said his firm has purchased the old Lucky Strike property, along with the adjoining car wash.

The firm plans to deconstruct the buildings and scrape the property down for new construction, much like it did with the old K-mart store on Brooks Street in 2014.

“We’re into a purchase-sale agreement with Les Schwab,” Erickson said. “They’re looking to vacate their facility and build a brand new prototype that gives them a chance to have more employees and services than what they currently have.”

Plans for the site will place the new tire store along Russell Street, just across from the Missoula County Fairgrounds. Two additional buildings will also front the corners of Washburn Street, Dearborn Avenue and Fairview Avenue.

Erickson said he’d negotiated with a national restaurant chain to occupy one of the pads. But the chain decided against expanding into Montana due to the state’s liquor laws.

Erickson said he’s searching for tenants.

“We’ll create pads for our future development, so they’re ready when we’re able to secure new tenants,” he said.

The effort brings new construction to the Midtown district, which is set for major renovations in the coming years, starting with the expansion of Southgate Mall.

Efforts to redesign Brooks Street are also in play, and a group dubbed Midtown Mojo is looking to transform the district to better suit pedestrians, housing and public transit.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday granted Woodbury permission to proceed with demolition. The firm will later seek reimbursement from MRA for portions of the demolition cost.

“They’re asking for a request to remove the buildings and get started,” said Annette Marchesseault, project manager for MRA. “They expect to be coming back in August with a development proposal and to seek tax increment financing to make improvements within the-right-of-way and demolition.”

Woodbury purchased the old K-mart property in 2013. The firm razed the dated store and redeveloped the property with a number of new business, including Kohls, Cabelas and the Boot Barn.

Dubbed South Crossing, that project also includes several new eateries, including McKenzie River Pizza Co., Jimmy Johns, Noodles and Co., and City Brew. It brought services to a section of town where options had been limited.

Erickson said Woodbury is also interested in redeveloping the old Les Schwab property once the company moves to its new Russell Street location. But while Erickson has tenants in mind, their interests conflict with the property’s neighbor, that being Fantasy For Adults, a 24-hour porn shop.

“Before anyone purchases (the old Les Schwab), they’ll need to have a use,” Erickson said. “I’m not sure how they fit in with the property’s neighbor.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com