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Missoula Planning Board approves Westside housing development

The development, proposed by Westside Village LLC of Missoula, looks to replace a handful of mobile homes on a half-city block at Shakespeare and Burton Streets with 24 new housing units.

A proposed housing project in Missoula’s Westside Neighborhood received approval from the Consolidated Planning Board on Tuesday night, but not without concerns over displacing the property’s current residents.

The development, proposed by Westside Village LLC of Missoula, looks to replace a handful of mobile homes on a half-city block at Shakespeare and Burton Streets with 24 new housing units.

The project would result in an increase in housing and modernize what’s currently on the property, which is owned by the development family.

A representative of the developer said that current residents have been notified of the project and efforts are being made to help them relocate before construction begins.

“We’re talking about mobile homes and Missoula’s affordable housing stock. We don’t take lightly that we’re moving these out,” said Paul Forsting, a representative of the developer. “The landowners are particularly sensitive to that. We are getting rid of some affordable housing in Missoula, but we’re also upgrading Missoula’s rental stock.”

Alex Eidam, an associate planner with the city, said the property is currently underzoned and the request to rezone the parcel to neighborhood business better fits with Missoula’s growth policy. The new zoning allows for a wider number of uses.

“There’s a variety of one and two unit houses,” she said. “This plan calls for 24 units proposed at this time.”

While that’s less than what’s permitted on the property, Kent Means, the project’s architect with MMW, said the developers want to consider the neighborhood’s existing character.

The city’s current parking requirements also limit the number of units that could be developed, he added.

“Ultimately, what drives density is parking. We’re providing all the off-street parking along the alley side and maximizing the amount of parking we can put in there,” said Means. “That essentially maximizes the amount of units we can get, unless we did some completely different arrangement with a parking lot and a denser building. We didn’t feel that was appropriate for this spot.”

Comments taken during Tuesday’s planning board meeting didn’t oppose the project, but sought assurance that the development wouldn’t grow beyond the 24 proposed units.

Westside Village has completed similar projects in Missoula and described the new units as “attainable.” Construction is set to begin this spring and take around nine months to complete if the City Council approves the rezone.

“This project fits the neighborhood intensity,” said planning board member Dave Loomis. “These are city streets. The zoning district is appropriate for the city and this location.”

The developers said some of the mobile homes on the property will be refurbished and lived in elsewhere. Other homes on the property were described as beyond repair.