Missoula City Council laments loss of home sites, approves mini-storage warehouse

The mini-storage warehouse is located at 2115 Johnson St.

Although some lamented the loss of potential homebuilding sites across from a park, Missoula City Council members approved a 275-unit mini-storage warehouse at their Monday night meeting.

The indoor storage units will be located directly across from the new Montana Rail Link Park on the Bitterroot Trail.

The warehouse clearly isn’t “the highest and best use” of the property said Councilman John DiBari, who nonetheless thanked the developer for improving the building’s exterior and agreeing to put sidewalks around the property.

“I would really prefer to see these elsewhere,” added Councilwoman Gwen Jones. “I hope that the reuse of this building doesn’t preclude residential going in some years down the road.”

There could be no better home site in the Franklin to the Fort neighborhood, Jones said. It’s across from a park, near Franklin School, near a trail that reaches all the way to Hamilton and along two bus routes.

Several council members said they were impressed by developer Brian Walker’s agreement to add sidewalks, as they will contribute to the use and safety of the new park.

Previously a lumber storage warehouse, the property at 2115 Johnson St. will be monitored with surveillance cameras inside and outside.

And while Walker originally planned to remove fencing around the building, his representative at Monday night’s meeting said they will consider leaving the fence in place because of neighborhood safety concerns.

This is the fourth indoor mini-storage warehouse that Walker has developed, so will follow the security and management guidelines developed during those projects.

City Council members voted 10-1 in favor of the mini-storage development, with Councilwoman Julie Armstrong voting no and Councilman Bryan Von Lossberg absent.