Buyer of historic Missoula church to create synergy in support of upstart businesses

Kiah Hochstetler, right, purchased the historic Emmanuel Baptist Church in downtown Missoula to support the upstart business REVO, founded by Michael Savasuk, left. Hochstetler plans to catch up on deferred maintenance and make improvements to the building’s efficiency, but keep the property intact as he fills it with small businesses and a possible drop-in day care. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

When a historic downtown church came on the market for the second time, Kiah Hochstetler saw an opportunity to boost upstart businesses, giving them a home in Missoula’s pricey commercial real estate market.

Hochstetler closed on the former Emmanuel Baptist Church this month, and while the 129-year-old structure and its 1960s addition will undergo repairs and upgrades in efficiency, it will otherwise remain intact as it launches a new chapter rooted in business and entrepreneurial support.

“There’s a lot of deferred maintenance, so we’re going to be getting on the brickwork and catch up on all the deferred maintenance,” Hochstetler said Friday. “The building is definitely not energy efficient. We’re going to use as much of the charm and character of the building, but try to get the efficiency up and keep it as a charming space.”

Hochstetler, a local impact investor and supporter of local businesses, began looking for property over the summer to support a promising Missoula startup known as REVO. It’s not easy for small businesses to find space to operate, he said, and the church appeared as a promising location.

It was under contract once, but was placed back on the market when he made an offer.

“We moved quickly to get it under contract so REVO would have a home,” Hochstetler said. “There’s a lot of advantages for new businesses being downtown. It changes the business model for REVO, because they have access to professional workers in this space.”

Micheal Savasuk founded REVO roughly two years ago, seeing an opportunity to bring customized strength training to elite athletes in Missoula. They pull from different methodologies based on the individual’s personal goals.

“We train everything from post-injury to elite mountain athletes,” said Savasuk. “We design programs for you based on your own individualized needs for what you train for, but also your injury history. That way, what you do in the gym translates more to what you do outside the gym.”

The company, which also donates to local charities, will serve as the property’s anchor tenant, occupying roughly one-third of the space in the new sanctuary after renovations. They’ll be joined by a physical therapist, along with strength coach Callie Young.

REVO was formerly based in Trempers Plaza but needed more room to serve its growing business.

“We have some new concepts up our sleeves that we’ll be launching in the next few months once we get loaded in here,” said Savasuk. “With those new concepts, we needed a little more room. But it’s hard in this market with the real estate.”

The downtown property includes roughly 15,000 square feet in two buildings, including the historic church, which opened in 1890 as Emmanuel Baptist. The newer sanctuary was constructed in the 1960s, and it’s there where REVO will set up shop.

Hochstetler plans to fill the remaining space with similar businesses, creating synergy in the downtown property. REVO sees benefits in Hochstetler’s approach.

“We’re going to try and get a lot of similar, small Missoula-based businesses that would otherwise have a hard time getting set up,” said Savasuk. “We went through a lot of growing pains ourselves as a small business. Missoula deserves people on the ground level helping each other out.”

Hochstetler has a long history in Missoula supporting local businesses. Under Goodworks Evergreen, he’s working to create a perpetual holding company open to investors who find value in moving small local businesses to community ownership.

While the purchase of the downtown property is his alone, the underlying goal aims to support REVO and other upstarts looking to grow. The historic sanctuary could also house a drop-in daycare, something lacking in downtown Missoula.

“Being commercial real estate, taxes are high, so we want to get it occupied as fast as possible and get that rolling,” he said. “There’s nice outdoor space here, so we’re looking to see if we can find an operator of drop-in child care, or something like that, so people can come downtown and do what they need to.

“It’s a blank slate from that perspective. We want to find good tenants and create an interesting space.”