By Martin Kidston
Stockman Bank received the green light Wednesday to demolish a long-vacant movie theater on South Brooks Street, even though plans to construct a new bank branch may be two years away.
Located at 3601 Brooks Street, the lot currently houses the shuttered Cine 3 theater and the old Arron’s Rental Center, which is currently occupied.
But the theater has sat vacant for more than a decade and has become the target of illegal activity, according to Ellen Buchanan, executive director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.
“It’s been a problem for the city, the police department and the current owners for quite some time,” Buchanan said. “We were asked last year if we’d consider funding the demolition of the building.”
MRA’s Board of Directors granted Stockman the right to proceed with demolition and return at a later time to seek reimbursement for a portion of the costs.
Randy Rupert, regional director of business development for CTA architects, said the bank would like to proceed with demolition as soon as possible, saying work could begin within a few weeks.
He said the bank has plans to construct a two-story branch office at the southside location once it opens its new western Montana headquarters building in downtown Missoula. That project is currently under construction.
“That (Brooks Street) location is a key location for Stockman,” Rupert said. “I believe it will be the second location in Missoula, with a third to come after that.”
The Missoula Police Department has asked MRA to “expedite” removal of the vacant building. Rupert said break-ins, vandals and other miscreants have been attracted to the shuttered building.
“Two weeks ago, we got broken into again,” he said. “It’s full of animals. It’s amazing how people find a way in.”
Rupert said plans for the new branch office are in design.
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org