Missoula County commissioners on Tuesday accepted a $1.53 million offer on six lots in the Missoula Development Park, where a media company plans to construct and operate a film and television studio for major productions.
The deal, reached between the county and Shadowcast Partners, brings the project one step closer to fruition, though a number of details remain. The purchase is set to close no later than June.
“They expected to close much sooner than that, but they wanted sufficient time to get all the pieces together,” said Dori Brownlow, director of development for the county. “We have a number of dates in the agreement they have to comply with, or they will be waived.”
The site’s location, the city’s daily direct flights from Los Angeles, and Montana’s newly created film incentives helped attract Shadowcast Partners to Missoula, where they plan to locate their $20 million Montana Media Hub.
The project would create a 120,000 square-foot facility built specifically to industry standards for film and television production. It would include three 20,000 square-foot sound stages along with flex space for smaller needs, such as video game and software makers.
The location near the airport and its surrounding hotels played a role in the site selection. The project is slated for the technology portion of the Missoula Development Park.
“I feel really good about what we have in the buy-sell at this point,” Brownlow said. “They’re moving full speed ahead in their due diligence.”
The offer was made on six lots within the district and could include a right of first refusal for five other lots in the district to accommodate future expansion.
The initial offer from the buyer came in at $1.5 million, or around $3.22 per square foot. The Missoula Development Authority recommended a price closer to $3.50 per square foot.
“The buyers looked at that. There’s fairly restrictive zoning in this area, which is why it’s been so slow to sell,” Brownlow said. “With that, the buyer has come back with $3.30 a square foot, which is $1.53 million.”
The buyers have also agreed to increase their earnest money and add a clause to look at local contractors and subcontractors, along with apprenticeship programs.
Project partner Adam Graham has said that visual streaming content has entered a period of rapid growth given the advent of new technology and the explosion of new productions and channels.
He described the Montana Media Hub as an asset class that’s in high demand but is lacking supply. Industry experts don’t expect that demand to diminish any time soon.
“I was excited about the movement the potential buyers were able to do, and their commitment to local contractors, subcontractors and apprenticeship programs meant a lot,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “It’s a great new addition to our economy.”