Montana Ace Fancy Plants plans $400K expansion to launch year-round business

It’s not the biggest project to cross the desk at the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, but for a small local business, the opportunity to expand operations into the winter months can generate conversation.

The agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved a $50,000 request from Montana Ace Fancy Plants for facade renovations to a neighboring warehouse.

When combined with interior renovations, the project carries a total price tag of $424,000.

“What that does is allows what’s now a seasonal business to have winter-time business and do a significant indoor plant inventory, and a retail area for things other than shrubs,” said Chris Behan, assistant director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.

The business, located at 110 Burlington Avenue, offers a variety of plants and landscaping material in an outdoor setting, which once served a storage lot. Because of its nature, Ace Fancy Plants shuts down at the close of fall and doesn’t reopen until the spring planting season.

However, the company renewed its second 10-year lease and with it, it acquired the back half of a nearby warehouse. Given the way the lots are configured, the back half of that warehouse fronts Burlington Avenue.

The company plans to renovate the warehouse so it resembles a storefront. After the renovations, ACE will offer 3,500 square feet of indoor retail space, turning a seasonal operation year round.

“It’s a seasonal business that shuts down in winter, but they’re expanding their operations and taking up half the warehouse,” said Jeff Maphis with JCM Architects. “It’s a bustling business in the summer and spring and now it’ll be year round.”

Of the $424,000 renovation, the facade work totals roughly $141,000, qualifying it for $50,000 from the city’s facade improvement program – the most the program allows.

“It’ll significantly improve the streetscape of the building,” said Maphis.

The building is currently a blank cinder-block wall.