Roxy Theater planning expansion, outdoor tavern and event space

The Roxy Garden, which won preliminary approval from the Missoula City Council, also got a massive upgrade thanks to Ryann Hawk. (Roxy Theater)

The Roxy Theater plans to expand into an adjacent building to add a tavern style screening room and convert an open lot off the alley into an outdoor garden offering additional event space with beverages.

While members of the City Council won’t vote on the project until Monday night, most lined up in support of it, saying it brings additional culture to the evolving Hip Strip at a time when it’s needed most.

“I’m really excited about this project,” said council member Gwen Jones. “It says a lot about the direction the Hip Strip is going in. The culture has changed around this, so this type of community gathering space is really the future.”

Mike Steinberg, executive director of the nonprofit theater, said the Roxy Annex and garden will renovate vacant space at 730 S. Higgins Avenue. The former retail spot will be converted into a 33-seat movie screening room offering concessions, including beer and wine.

The garden will take up a parking lot behind the building and serve as additional outdoor event space. Steinberg said it will be landscaped and fenced to accommodate community events and outdoor screenings.

The outdoor portion of the venue will operate from dusk to midnight between spring and fall.

City staff said recent changes in code won’t require the business to provide additional parking, though it will be required to install bike parking and meed ADA standards off Higgins and S. Sixth Street.

“I always thought our zoning on the Hip Strip tends to over park, and the last thing we want is a whole bunch of parking in this vibrant part of our downtown,” said council member Jordan Hess.

No timeline to open the annex and garden was offered during Wednesday’s online meeting, and no cost was included. Members of the City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee praised the project.

“We know the decisions we’re making toward sustainability and mode share is really impactful for projects of this magnitude,” said council member Heather Harp. “Small little neighborhood uses like this are very welcome, especially when we know what the intended audience is and their choice of mode split being reflected in this project.”