Riverfront project continues to move forward

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By Martin Kidston

One of the largest urban infill projects in Missoula’s history continues to move forward, as developers and a special working committee finalize details surrounding parking, management of a proposed conference center, and a land exchange.

Over the past several years, Hotel Fox Partners has been working on plans to build a hotel and conference center on the Riverfront Triangle, a seven-acre parcel of land on the corner of Orange Street and West Broadway.

The $150 million project would also include housing, retail amenities and office space. If successful, the development would transform the western reaches of downtown Missoula and infuse the city with an estimated $32 million in annual visitor spending.

Chris Behan, assistant director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, described the development agreement as complicated, though the pieces are falling into place and should be resolved by the middle of August.

“Each part of the agreement has to be it’s own separate process,” Behan said. “They’re all key. Without any one of them, the whole thing falls apart.”

Behan said the agreements cover a number of issues, including parking management, contributions to the conference center, condominium documents and the exchange of 1.8 acres of city-owned land.

Efforts to rezone the area are also moving forward.

“The development agreement is the format for all the sub agreements,” said Jim McLeod, senior managing director and co-founder of Farran Realty Partners, one of the project’s key players. “It’s taken some time, but we’re making great progress and we’re excited to get back in front of the working committee within the next few weeks, and hopefully the (MRA) board next month.”

The city granted Hotel Fox Partners exclusive rights to develop 1.8 acres of the downtown property in 2011. The plan has grown over time to cover more than 7 acres to include a 200-room hotel and conference center capable of drawing regional events.

The project also includes roughly 250 units of housing and 50,000 square feet of office space geared toward a single tenant. Current plans also call for new retail spaces and structured parking.

“We’ve been working on this for several years now,” said McLeod. “Really, over the last six months, we’re really starting to get into the details.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com