A highly anticipated project that promised to transform downtown Missoula was officially called off on Friday after the developers said the economic fallout from the pandemic had effectively killed their plans.
Clark Fork Riverfront Properties last year assumed the development rights for roughly 2 acres of downtown property earmarked for a hotel and events center. The development team spent months finalizing its plans and intended to break ground this summer.
But on Friday, the development team, led by Nick and Robin Checota, turned to social media to say that COVID-19 and the resulting health precautions had devastated the live entertainment industry.
The Checota’s own Logjam Presents and operate a number of venues in Missoula and Bozeman. The company has transformed the entertainment industry in Missoula and had big plans for the future with the development of the city’s first dedicated events center.
It promised to elevate a number of other businesses and boost the downtown district.
“As Logjam works to weather this storm, we believe our best path forward is to focus our financial resources and energy on preserving our existing venues and sustaining our current businesses,” the statement read. “While we believe the Riverfront Triangle property has amazing potential for the Missoula community, the financial impact of COVID-19 on Logjam has caused us to be unable to continue development of the project.”
Over the past few years, Farran Realty Partners had purchased several parcels of land within the Riverfront Triangle as part of a sizable infill project planned for the district. As proposed, the project would include a hotel and events center, office, housing, commercial space and a parking structure.
Last October, Farran relinquished its development rights to the parcel reserved for the hotel and events center to Clark Fork Riverfront Properties. That freed members of the Farran team to focus on developing the remaining parcels.
The first phase of the project was set to break ground this fall with the construction of an underground parking garage, atop which the hotel, events center and other structures would sit.
But the pandemic chilled the economy and the project has struggled to move forward. In July, members of the Farran team relisted several of the properties under its portion of the project with a new real estate firm.
“We’re still enthusiastic about it, but given the current situation, I think everyone has hit the pause button to see how this all plays out,” Jim McLeod with Farran told the Missoula Current earlier this year. “The equity markets and our lenders, they’re all kind of in the same boat, waiting to see how it all plays out.”
In their own announcement, the Checotas said the loss of revenue associated with the pandemic made their portion of the downtown project unfeasible at this point in time.
“As the pandemic continues to plague our nation, many in the entertainment industry have watched their revenues collapse,” they said in a statement. “The loss of revenue and the requirement to refund tickets combined with ongoing operational costs of the venues and our company has created a very challenging time for our businesses.”