By Martin Kidston
A group of stakeholders looking to reshape the Brooks Streets corridor is hosting a series of workshops this week aimed at informing future growth and transportation plans for the Midtown district.
Hosted by the Missoula Midtown Association and its partners, including Mountain Line and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, the workshops will explore current land use and transportation patterns, and suggest ways to implement improvements.
The effort is funded in part by Community Builders and New Mobility West.
“Missoula is taking a lot of care and time to really think critically about its form and how it works better for its citizens,” said John Lavey with Community Builders. “Good plans are challenging. They take a long time and can be frustrating, but the city is being very deliberate and thoughtful about doing a good job.”
The district covered by the study extends from Mount Avenue south to Lower Miller Creek Road and encompasses both residential and retail areas. The district has seen heightened redevelopment activity in recent years, from South Crossing to current plans at Southgate Mall.
Yet while investment interest is high, the district lacks a general sense of cohesiveness and has long been dominated by the automobile. But changes are coming.
The Missoula Urban Transit District plans to launch a new 15-minute Bolt! route on Brooks in 2018, and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency is looking to make the area more pedestrian friendly as investment interests pick up.
“There’s a lot of development and investment interest in Brooks Street and Midtown,” Lavey said. “This group has started to consider ways to make Brooks and Midtown more livable and walkable, and find ways to encourage investment that creates a realm that’s both inviting and attractive while also being sensible.”
Ton Zavitz, the city’s senior planner, said the workshops will help inform a community vision for the Brooks Street corridor. A similar study was conducted two years ago on Russell Street.
“With so much development occurring, this is the perfect time to think about how new things happen in the area,” said Zavitz.
Project events are planned for Tuesday 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A summary and conceptual discussion will take place Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. All events will take place at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.