Berkshire Hathaway’s $2.5M office expansion continues Midtown’s economic growth

Dan Ermatinger, a broker and owner of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Missoula, right, and manager and broker Mike Nugent, unveiled the company’s new office this week after a $2.5 million expansion. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

An established Missoula real estate company unveiled its $2.5 million renovation in a grand reopening this week, committing itself long-term to its Midtown location.

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, a real estate brokerage franchise with two offices in Missoula, spent the last 18 months renovating its office on South Avenue. The result is a modernized, 12,000-square-foot facility spread across two levels.

“Instead of relocating to another part of the city, we chose to remodel the place we’ve been in for 20 years,” said Dan Ermatinger. “This part of town is going through some rejuvenation.”

That rebirth helped convince the firm to stay put. The Missoula County Fairgrounds, located across the street, is early in its own renovation and Allegiance Benefit Plan Management now employs several hundred workers at its office just down the street.

Other companies, including onXmaps and Morrison-Maerile, have also invested in the Midtown district with newly constructed offices. The results, Ermatinger said, has the district feeling like a cohesive business community.

“I’m thankful we didn’t settle on property associated with Reserve Street,” he said. “We decided this was our best long-term location. There’s a growing sense of a real business community here.”

Mike Nugent, the company’s sales manager, said 55 agents are now listed on Berkshire’s Missoula roster. The renovations and addition offer room to grow as the company considers its future.

“The real estate market is changing,” Nugent said. “We’re creating space for our agents and customers to meet and work with clients, and we’re moving away from the individual office concept.”

Nugent said the firm moved into its current address in 1992, though it’s conducted business on the South Avenue block since the late 1970s.

“This is a good location for our agents,” said Ermatinger. “It’s convenient and easy to navigate to other parts of town. We’re really proud of it.”

The reinvestment made by Berkshire and other businesses in the district reaffirms what the Missoula Midtown Association is working to achieve. While the group is still young, it recently solidified its board of directors and established its nonprofit structure.

It’s also set to follow in the footsteps of the more mature Missoula Downtown Association by launching a membership drive and a monthly “Thirsty Thursday” gathering of association members.

“We’re seeing a lot of expansion coming to Midtown,” said association president Mark Bellon. “We’ve got the fairgrounds expansion, we’re seeing tremendous growth at the mall, and there’s peripheral projects for housing planned around the mall.”

The city has also launched a study of the Brooks Street corridor and other community plans are in the works, Bellon said.

“The Midtown association is really gaining momentum in increasing membership and advocating as a voice for businesses, residents and visitors alike,” Bellon said. “We see a bright future and we’re excited to see everything that’s going on.”