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Plans move forward for new Missoula development

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Nov 25 2013 10:22:35 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Plans for development are moving forward near the Ogren Park baseball stadium, close to downtown Missoula.

Monday evening, Missoula City Council members amended zoning in the Old Sawmill District between California and Hickory Streets to allow for residential and commercial buildings.  The district is just south of the Clark Fork River and north of the Milwaukee Trail.

The city originally released designs in 2005 for the area of the old Champion Mill site but city planners could not move forward until the old train trestle was replaced and Wyoming Street work was completed.

NBC Montana spent the day talking with city planners and architects to learn what that part of Missoula will look like in the future.

The Old Sawmill District may not look like much now but we found out Monday plans have finally been approved for commercial and residential development and should take at least a decade to complete.

“Now that we've built Wyoming Street and now that we've almost got Silver Park completed, the boat ramp, parking lots and the trail system, we're starting to see real development being able to occur there,” says Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.   

Buchanan says plans have been on the books for years and now, with the zoning amended, construction can begin.

“The desire is to create a new urban neighborhood and ‘urban’ being the important part of that,” says Buchanan.   

City planners they tell us in several years there will be extra infrastructure in the Old Sawmill District, including residential housing and commercial businesses.

Missoula based architect firm MacArthur, Means & Wells has already designed the first commercial-residential building.  Don MacArthur, principal at MMW, tells us the building houses 21 modern condominium units.  

“The developer is already taking reservations for the condominiums right now and then there is a 2,500-square-foot commercial space on the corner right along Wyoming Street,” says MacArthur.  

Other changes will include adding green space and extra parking.

“It's a great opportunity down at the Sawmill District,” MacArthur tells NBC Montana.  “It's a beautiful piece of land that's so close to downtown with easy access to all kinds of amenities, so I think people are really excited about how it's going to be to live there.”  

Now that zoning is approved architects expect to break ground on their first building next year.

City planners and architects tell us there is still a long way to go on this project; contractors must be hired and tenants found for residential condominiums.

They say Missoulians can expect a complete project in about a decade.