A number of renters in Bonner could have an opportunity to purchase their homes if a request by Bonner West Homes LLC to subdivide a small subdivision is approved.
This week, the request submitted by the IMEG Corp. on behalf of Bonner West cleared the Consolidated Planning Board, though it still requires final approval by Missoula County.
“The purpose of the proposed subdivision is to create individual parcels around the existing homes so they can be sold as real property rather than just continue to operate as rental investment units,” said Joe Dehnert of IMEG. “If approved, this subdivision would offer residents the option to be homeowners in the growing Bonner community.”
The 8-acre subdivision straddles Highway 200 just east of the former mill and dates back to around 1925. It includes 19 existing homes which sit on a single parcel. The small homes are currently used as rentals.
But Bonner West Homes, which owns the property, is looking to break the single parcel into 19 individual lots, each with a single home. Doing so requires approval of a subdivision application, which comes with its own costs, variances and conditions, such as modern sidewalks and dealing with encroachment issues on parcels nearly a century old.
“We’re not against putting in the sidewalks, we’re just looking for the quickest way to put these homes on the market so people can buy them instead of rent,” said Dehnert.
While the old mill no longer deals in lumber, it has transitioned into a hotbed of industrial activity ranging from bicycle fabrication to beer. The homes lining Highway 200 have endured the community’s transition, and Bonner West wants to put the homes into individual ownership.
Mike Hise of Bonner West said the current renters in each home will have first dibs at buying the property they currently reside in.
“For the tenants currently renting the properties from us, we’ve given them first opportunity to buy at no competition,” he said. “Whatever the property appraises at, or whatever we decide to sell at, we’ve given those tenants first opportunity for those houses they currently live in. The rest will go on the open market and sold as our realtor works through that.”
Hise said early indications suggest that roughly one-third of the renters are interested in buying their home.
“I would say there’s probably five that would like to stay and purchase if they can,” he said. “They’ve done their due diligence for banking and feel confident they can purchase.”