By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Nearly a year into the construction of Stockman Bank’s western Montana headquarters, the corner of West Broadway and Orange Street bears little resemblance to its former self.
The old Carquest and Salvation Army buildings have been razed, power lines have been buried, and the six-story building has a commanding presence on the downtown corner.
On Thursday, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Directors approved $1.5 million in tax increment financing to reimburse the bank for a portion of the work. The package is contingent upon MRA’s ability to put together an acceptable financing package, which would be paid to the bank over time.
“The elements Stockman is asking MRA assistance for includes demolition of the site,” said MRA project manager Annette Marchesseault. “The overhead utilities were buried, which was a really big improvement on that corner. They’re also proposing site improvements to the public right of way along Broadway with city sidewalks, a tree lawn and a public plaza entering the building.”
With a total project cost of $30.6 million, the bank and attached three-level parking garage is one of the largest developments to land in downtown Missoula in recent years. The bank spent $2.5 million buying the property and construction costs are estimated at $26.2 million.
Of the $1.5 million reimbursement from MRA, roughly $1 million is dedicated to demolition and the relocation of utilities. Around $315,000 will go to improvements to the public right of way, and $126,000 will go to architect and engineering fees.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in downtown redevelopment, and we hope that means it’s becoming more attractive for businesses like this,” said MRA board member Daniel Kemmis. “This is a major addition to the quality of downtown.”
Bob Burns, the bank’s Missoula market president, agreed, saying the growth of the downtown district, combined with the firm’s expanding customer base, made the project attractive to Stockman owner Bill Coffee.
Burns said the bank plans to employ 40 workers at its downtown headquarters. The bank will occupy the first and second floors while the third floor will be leased to the Worden Thane law firm, which specializes in business, real estate and general litigation.
Stockman is currently seeking tenants for the fourth and fifth floors, while the top floor and its rooftop terrace will be reserved for board meetings and community use, including nonprofit fundraisers.
“We’ll have secured underground parking for employees,” Burns said. “Street level will be for customer parking, and the top level for tenant usage. We’re excited that the project is coming along to fruition.”
MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said the project will generate an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 annually in new property taxes. The property was not on the tax rolls previously, given its use by the Salvation Army.
While the urban renewal district has little tax increment in the coffers, Buchanan said, the taxes generated by the bank will be enough to reimburse Stockman. What’s left will help finance the construction of a conference center and parking structure across the street as part of the larger Riverfront Triangle development.
“I’ve run the numbers from the Department of Revenue, and all of this was off the tax rolls because it was owned by Salvation Army,” said Buchanan. “Not only do we get the value of the building, we get the value of the land as well. The access beyond what’s needed to service the debt on Stockman Bank will be available for the Riverfront Triangle.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org