City Council sees diverse future for North Reserve/Scott Street

The North Reserve/Scott Street Urban Renewal District features a diversity of industrial, commercial, retail and residential uses.

By Sherry Devlin/Missoula Current

In a unanimous vote Monday, the Missoula City Council adopted a guiding plan for North Reserve/Scott Street, signaling the city’s desire to preserve and build upon the area’s unique blend of industrial, commercial, office and residential development.

“Lots of things are going on in this area,” said Chris Behan, assistant director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, whose office directed development of the master plan.

Nowhere in Missoula is there such a mix of land uses interspersed with so much undeveloped acreage. The plan, in fact, includes a call for development of an additional 200 acres, leaving another 200 for longer-range projects. The near-term development could include 2.8 million square feet of commercial, office and light industrial uses, and 1,200 residential units.

The MRA began work on the plan after the city created the North Reserve/Scott Street Urban Renewal District in 2014, knowing that the URD would promote investment and development in the area – and that there was no clear plan.

The area is bounded by significant manmade barriers: North Reserve Street’s intensive commercial zone, Interstate 90 and the railroad. It includes the Hilton Garden Inn, the Roseburg Forest Products plant, a gasoline railcar loading facility, the Missoula City Cemetery, Republic Services’ landfill, and the mix of residential and light industrial uses that sit atop the former White Pine Sash Co. site.

Behan told council members that the master plan’s mantra is to “preserve and protect” all of those uses, and in fact to encourage more of the same in the future.

Particularly critical, he said, is the industrial area that lies at the heart of the North Reserve/Scott Street URD. There is room for new industrial uses in the future, and the good-paying jobs those industries could provide.

As approved, the master plan divides the urban renewal district into three sub-districts characterized by their land uses. All three areas will require significant investments in infrastructure going forward, as there are few sidewalks or connecting roads. Pedestrians and bicyclists have very limited options throughout the URD.

The Consumer Direct building is under construction in the North Reserve sub-district. (MRA)

Behan and Tom Zavitz of Development Services summarized plans for the three sub-districts like this:

The Reserve Street District will feature a mix of retail and commercial uses, including hotels, dining and entertainment, and an increasingly intensive collection of offices. The plan envisions a “transitional area” between the street-front retailers and the office complexes that features commercial buildings with upper-floor residential units.

The industrial core of the North Reserve/Scott Street URD will continue to be anchored by Roseburg. “The plan calls for preserving existing industrial uses while providing opportunities for new industry and related businesses,” Zavitz said in explaining the master plan’s incorporation into the city’s growth policy – also approved by council members at Monday night’s meeting.

In addition, the plan proposes a buffer zone of “light industrial uses” along the western edge, creating a transition to the Reserve Street retail/commercial area; and parks, open space and greenways providing a buffer zone with the Scott Street residential area.

In the Scott Street sub-district, the master plan calls for a mix of residential neighborhoods, “live/work” blocks and transitional light industrial uses. The residential streets are connected to Missoula’s Northside neighborhood. “Community focal points” will be provided by open space, parks and neighborhood commercial establishments.

Behan said the plan is unusual in its specificity, and also because it includes a feasibility report that studies the various recommended land uses. All of the documents are available on the MRA website.