Missoula tech firm approved for campus construction project

A Missoula technology firm plans to raze the old Mel’s Used Cars facility to build a new three-story building, expanding its campus to accomodate more employees. (Photo by Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

By Martin Kidston

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday approved $291,000 in tax increment financing to help a digital mapping company expand its campus to accommodate future growth and dozens of new employees.

The agency’s board of directors approved the funding request to help onXmaps cover the cost of burying electric and fiber lines, and extending adequate water mains to the property, located at 1900 Stephens Avenue.

Chris Behan, assistant director at MRA, said the upgrades will benefit other Midtown businesses as well.

“There’s a large hole in terms of water service in the area that’s inadequate for potable use for more than one or two people per day, or for anything that approaches adequate fire suppression needed for a three-story building,” Behan said. “We want to maximize the number of other properties that are underserved.”

The tech company expanded its existing facility on Brooks Street in 2013 by adding 6,000 square feet and a second story to an older building. By the time construction wrapped up, onXmaps had nearly outgrown the facility.

Eric Siegfried, the company’s founder and president, said the new 13,000-square-foot building could accommodate up to 80 employees on three floors. The firm added 30 new jobs this year and plans to add 60 more over the next two years.

The company attributes its growth to the popularity of its IOS and Android apps.

“Our employees love that central location – they love the transportation that’s available,” said Siegfried. “It’s fun to see what’s happening in that neighborhood, and I’m excited to grow our campus in that part of Missoula.”

Siegfried said the $2.7 million project involves razing a small structure on the Stephens Avenue lot, which onXmaps recently purchased. For the past five decades, the property has served as a car lot, most recently Mel’s Used Cars.

MRA staff members praised the project, noting a recent report by the Urban Land Institute that recommended promoting the Midtown district as a potential high-tech campus. The company’s growing digital campus could incentive redevelopment of other underutilized property in the area, they said.maps

Once completed, the new facility is expected to generate up to $32,000 a year in new tax revenue. The company plans to break ground in the coming weeks and complete the project by November 2017.

“When you look at the opportunity part of this, you’re looking at a businesses that’s rapidly growing and expanding, and will continue to grow in this area,” said Behan.

“I think it will be apparent to other landowners in the area and encourage the development of other high-quality projects,” added MRA board member Nancy Moe.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com