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New Starbucks to open near 3 Missoula coffee shops

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
Published On: Jan 24 2014 07:21:03 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 24 2014 08:48:16 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

A new coffee shop is opening up in Missoula, but in the caffeine crazy city, this one has some people upset.

Utah-based Wadsworth Development Group plans to build the Starbucks on the south side of town in a lot on the corner of Brooks Street and Central Avenue. The run-down lot sits in an area designated as an urban renewal district.

The City of Missoula is investing $66,000 to tear down the old gas station that sits there now and redevelop the lot, but what troubles some is that it also happens to be located within a few blocks of three local coffee shops -- Florence Coffee, the Loose Caboose and Liquid Planet.

Liquid Planet co-owner Ian Haddad says he just learned the news about Starbucks a few days ago.

"Being that there are already numerous businesses and coffee shops around this area, it definitely surprised us, and gets us a little concerned," said Haddad.

City officials tell us Wadsworth met the criteria to receive investment dollars from the city, and they can't discriminate.

"It’s a free market,” said Ellen Buchanan, with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. “We're not about deciding who should be in the building. It's getting better urban design, getting better aesthetic design, better uses up and down that Brooks corridor. "

Buchanan says in the last year, several other local businesses have received comparable or greater amounts of investment from the city for development, including the new Poverello Center building and the new Great Burn Brewery.

Haddad says he’s confident Liquid Planet can compete with Starbucks.

"We feel we have a stable enough customer base and lots of regulars, so we don't feel it should be an issue," said Haddad.

He even concedes investment in the area will ultimately be a good thing for the surrounding businesses.

"Who knows how long Starbucks will or will not be there, and just like the downtown store, they spent a lot of money to improve that area, and they're no longer there, and there's some other companies that have come in and the area looks much nicer now."