Builders are beginning to show interest in an underserved portion of Missoula two years after the city created an urban renewal district in hopes of sparking new investment, including housing and commercial development.
Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, said one housing project already underway has generated interest among developers looking to follow suit in the North Reserve and Scott Street district.
“The success of Dave Edgell’s project has been impactful,” Buchanan said. “There are other properties in that area that will be candidates for redevelopment as housing in the near future.”
Edgell broke ground on Scott Street Village in late 2014. Planned in several phases, the project includes a blend of single-family homes, townhomes and a possible apartment building, all situated along a new grid of streets.
Just to the north, the Missoula Housing Authority is looking to launch a $36 million project. As proposed, it includes 200 affordable apartment units, most of which will be offered at 60 percent of the area median income.
As those projects advance, Buchanan said, other properties within the district are being eyed for additional housing, including a portion of the old White Pine Sash property. While the site once catered to industrial uses, roughly half has been cleaned to residential standards.
“The front half has been cleaned up to residential standards, and DEQ has signed off on that,” Buchanan said. “But because of the deed restriction, the current owners can’t sell off the front half to be developed as residences until that deed restriction is lifted.”
Buchanan said interest in the property is high and the deed restriction could soon be lifted. The property is currently on the market.
“We’ve had several people come through wanting to do housing on the front part of that,” she said. “Several potential buyers have approached us to discuss the possibilities of residential development.”
In a unanimous vote in February 2017, the City Council adopted a guiding plan for the North Reserve and Scott Street district, a sprawling area loosely bounded by Reserve to the west, Interstate 90 to the north, Scott Street to the east and the railroad tracks to the south.
Several new commercial uses have moved into or expanded within the district’s western reaches, including Consumer Direct’s new headquarters and Bretz RV. Scott Street Village marked the first major foray into housing in the district’s eastern edge.
When adopting the plan, the city estimated that near-term development could include 2.8 million square feet of commercial, office and light industrial uses, and 1,200 residential units.
“We looked at the district as being residential on the east end, commercial on the west end, and industrial in the center,” Buchanan said. “It’s almost like three different districts.”