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City Council approves downtown rezone for housing, commercial development

While plans remain tentative, the proposal will include parking below the building with access off West Broadway. A presentation by WGM Group suggests a multi-story building with a blend of retail and housing.

The Missoula City Council on Monday approved a rezone request for a riverfront parcel eyed for redevelopment, calling the proposed mixed-use project ideal for the downtown district.

Wise Enterprise Group, represented by WGM, is rezoning the property at 601 W. Broadway to central business district, which allows for a wider variety of commercial and housing uses and permits taller structures.

The council approved the request on a 9-1 vote.

“It’s a strategic rezone that meets our planning goals,” said council member Jordan Hess. “It’s in the downtown area, which is exactly where we’d like to see thoughtful density. It also meets some of our goals by retaining the Riverfront Trail aspect.”

As proposed, the project will include a trail easement from West Broadway that wraps behind the proposed building and follows the Clark Fork River. The trail would connect to the Riverfront Trail, which will eventually connect to future development within the Riverfront Triangle district.

While plans remain tentative, the proposal will include parking below the building with access off West Broadway. A presentation by WGM Group suggests a multi-story building with a blend of retail and housing.

“Given how many people we have living in this valley now and how many more will be coming in future decades, I’m very much in favor of having thoughtful density downtown,” said council member Gwen Jones.

The measure was one of several development proposals approved on Monday. Council members also approved the annexation and rezoning for Heron’s Landing, a proposed 347-lot subdivision on 72 acres north of Mullan Road.

The zoning specific to the neighborhood approved with the annexation outlines smaller lot sizes and spaces around buildings. And like 601 West Broadway, the rezone gives the developers greater flexibility by allowing for higher density in the area, the city said.

Council member Heather Harp said the 72-acre subdivision and its zoning measures will create the “kind of place we can all really value,” and working with the developers to offer that flexibility is worth it for Heron’s landing.

“What we saw in this particular application was people who really wanted to do a good project. And we (City Council) realize that we here in Missoula don’t always have the finances personally to finance such a big project, so sometimes it requires outside firms coming in to do some of that heavy lifting for us,” Harp said. “I know a lot of Missoulians sometimes get upset about that idea, but at the end of the day we need more housing, so sometimes we have to be able to work with others.”

The City Council also approved the annexation of 3770 and 3720 Mullan Rd. The properties total roughly 4 acres and will allow for the construction of commercial buildings and apartments.