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Urban Renewal District Plan aims to revitalize Uptown Butte

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Nov 18 2013 06:15:29 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 18 2013 06:44:47 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

Butte-Silver Bow will consider a new Urban Renewal District Plan to take advantage of a changing Uptown.

The current plan is set to expire at the end of the year. It's 30-years-old, and Butte has changed from primarily a mining town into a city with a reputation for its summer festivals.

Butte-Silver Bow officials have asked the community for feedback and details on how it could be improved.

"The plan is detailed enough that it comes down to very specific ideas, but broad enough that it's open to other ideas too that could be filled in," said Community Development Director Karen Byrnes.

Byrnes said some of those ideas include beautification, a more uniform look, and more economic development.

"New jobs and more life in the Uptown," said Chief Executive Matt Vincent when we asked what the ultimate goal of the plan is. "It's no secret there's a lot of vacant buildings and businesses relocating or going out of business."

Building a brand new parking garage at Mural Park on Park Street is the first of many projects Butte-Silver Bow plans to complete with the new plan.

"There should be some exciting things for Butte in the near future," Vincent said.

Vincent just returned from a conference in California on urban revitalization and design.

"There's a need for better planning and prioritization in how we approach revitalization in our city," he said.

He said with the current urban renewal district set to expire, it's the perfect time for a new plan.

"It really came down to -- How do you get the most bang for the public dollar, and what role can the local government play in revitalization?" Vincent explained.

A key part of the plan is a tax increment financing program that will take part of the money collected from taxes inside the Uptown district and use it pay for improvement.

It's a plan that could get a boost from some of the projects already on the list, like the new Northwestern Energy Building and the remodel of the old YMCA building, and from Butte's growing reputation.

"Take advantage of the great exposure we've been able to gain through our festival economy and see those people not just as visitors but as new residents," said Vincent.

The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners will most likely vote to pass an ordinance adopting the urban renewal plan this Wednesday.

Butte-Silver Bow will hold a public meeting to discuss the plan on December 4, and the final reading will be at the Commissioners meeting on December 18.