After missing out on an opportunity to secure an affordable apartment complex reserved for those with certain disabilities earlier this year, the City of Missoula will become the property’s new owner after all.
Missoula Mayor John Engen on Thursday said the city was conducting due-diligence on the 21-unit complex, known as the Bridge Apartments, and that it planned to make an offer.
The $2.2 million offer, announced on Monday, is the same offer that was initially declined by Western Montana Mental Health in favor of another buyer earlier this year.
“I don’t know what happened with the first buyer, but we’re leaning hard into due diligence right now,” Engen said last week. “We’re going to be able to acquire that facility, so long as (City Council) supports it, and I think we’ll have that support.”
The property is listed for $2.2 million and is owned by Western Montana Mental Health. The organization received public funding to build the facility in the 1990s in exchange for keeping the units affordable for a period of time.
But the required period of affordability expired and the property was placed up for sale on the open market. That raised concerns about losing 21 units of affordable housing, and what would happen to the tenants who live there.
The city will purchase the property through the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and will tend to any deferred maintenance and ensure the building is safe for residents. It will seek a partner to operate and potentially own the building, provided they guarantee the current use permanently remains in place.
“We’re going to acquire it, get a deed restriction on it so it will be used for this population in perpetuity,” Engen said. “We hope to get it in and out of our hands relatively quickly. It’s something I think we can put in our win column.”
Engen admitted that the city was not in a position to operate the facility and meet the needs of its residents. To cover that, the city is working with Providence Supportive Services, which provides similar services in other regions.
“This seems like an ideal opportunity to get them in the market, as it were,” Engen said. “They’re doing supportive housing throughout their system, particularly in Washington state and Oregon. This is what they do. They run residential facilities for folks with significant issues that require support.”
The city made the deal public on Monday.
“One of the most effective ways to house folks is to ensure that they’re not homeless to begin with,” Engen said in a statement. “Our agreement with Western guarantees long-term, stable housing for residents who would otherwise be exceptionally vulnerable in Missoula’s tight real-estate market.”