County accepts $281K offer at development park; lots eyed for mini storage

Missoula County accepted an offer from a local developer for two of the few remaining lots in the Missoula Development Park, even though commissioners frowned upon the proposed project.

S&J Great Northern Properties, represented by Lambros Real Estate ERA, looks to construct storage units on the property. The county accepted the firm’s $281,000 offer, which breaks down to roughly $4.64 per square foot.

The lots were listed at $5.47 per square foot.

“It is less, but it’s one of the highest (offers) we’ve had,” said Dori Brownlow, director of the county’s development district. “The lot across the street that was bought for the storage of vehicles, the county sold at $4.50 a square foot. Our last sale to Double Hall was at $3.88 per square foot.”

Brownlow said the developer has already contacted city zoning, as the city of Missoula is expected to annex the property this year. The storage project has been approved by the Missoula Development Park’s review committee.

While the county accepted the offer, commissioners frowned upon the proposed project, saying it doesn’t represent the best use of the property when industrial land is lacking throughout the county.

The county’s lack of designated industrial space has emerged as a potential challenge to economic growth and job creation, economists have said. The county, the airport and Missoula Economic Partnership, among others, have been looking for new industrial opportunities to meet current demand and fuel job creation.

“I hate to see good industrial land utilized for storage units when there’s not a whole ton of industrial land,” said Commissioner Cola Rowley. “I’d like to see it used for industrial purposes instead of super light industrial and commercial. But that’s allowed in all the zoning.”

Brownlow said the lots are small and have been on the market for some time. While the deal includes just two lots, a small third lot remains available.

“I’ve tried to push it as three lots,” Brownlow said. “I’ve asked them twice and got a no.”

The county will pay a 3 percent commission to Adam Hertz, the real estate agent involved in the deal.