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Student housing project starts Front Street building boom

Construction crews prepare to pour a concrete slab on the parking garage as part of a new student housing project under development in downtown Missoula. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Construction is moving quickly on the new student housing complex under development on Front Street in downtown Missoula, and come next week, the framers will arrive to give height to the $38 million project.

Jim McLeod, the senior managing director with Farran Realty Partners, said the project moved through the winter on schedule. Crews poured the top parking slab on Thursday and will continue building the 308-stall garage, even as construction starts on the residences.

“We’ll build this in towers four stories up, and that starts on Monday,” said McLeod, demonstrating the plans with a time-lapse video. “You’ll see framers up there framing and in the next two or three weeks, you’ll see four stories there.”

The project marks one of three underway on Front Street. Deconstruction of the Missoula Mercantile continues to advance before work begins on a five-story hotel. The Missoula Public Library also plans to begin clearing the 400 block of Front Street for a new four-story library this spring.

But the student housing project has a jump on both projects, and McLeod said it remains on pace for a May opening in 2018.

“The property management group we’re working with is Grand Campus Living, and they’re specific to student housing,” said McLeod. “They’re looking to hire their manager and once that person is identified, they’ll be hiring locally.”

McLeod said a leasing office and a mock-up unit will open downtown this year. The model unit will include the cabinets and kitchen, along with the furniture that comes furnished with each room.

“Students can come in and start signing their leases once (the model unit) opens,” McLeod said.

The project has been nearly a year in the works and cleared several hurdles last year, including the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and final approval from the City Council in December.

Plans include two levels of parking and four levels of housing on the 300 block of East Front Street. Once finished, the development will include 488 beds and 6,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Jackson Contractor Group was hired as the general contractor.

“All of our projects got delayed because it was a pretty severe winter, but they continue to work every day and they’ve done a fantastic job, so we’re still on schedule,” McLeod said. “Once they start framing, you’ll really start to get a sense of what’s going on there.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com