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Northside housing project still a go, but facing economic headwinds

The top third of the nine-acre project is reserved for affordable housing on a community land trust while the bottom two-thirds will go to workforce housing.

Plans to develop a residential community on nine acres off Scott Street continue to inch forward, though economic headwinds could push the project off for another year.

Still, members of Ravara LLC said the project remains a go.

“We started this in an uncertain time and we’re continuing to develop in an uncertain time,” said Kiah Hochstetler, a member of the development team. “We’re trying to manage for that.”

The project enjoys heavy public subsidies, including a land donation by the city and a sizable investment by the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.

As planned, a community land trust on three acres will accommodate around 70 townhomes and condominiums. The units will be held as permanently affordable and managed by the North Missoula Community Development Corp.

“This will nearly double the current number of units they have under land trust,” Hochstetler said. “They will do the work to qualify the buyers to make sure they meet the area median income requirements set by the city, as well as managing the community land trust in perpetuity.”

The remaining six acres will include 250 market-rate apartments, along with a small daycare facility, a neighborhood market and possible food and beverage options. It will also include nearly 1.5 acres of greenspace intended to serve as a central plaza.

“We’re not just slapping up homes, but creating something that is meaningful for someone to live in,” Hochstetler said. “The central square we were able to preserve through a shared parking agreement with the city.”

The project is now several years in the making and faces new headwinds, from Montana’s labor shortage to commodity prices. Interest rates are also on the rise.

Hochstetler said Ravara is working with First Security Bank to secure a construction loan.

“We’re seeing labor shortages. Global supply chains and material costs continue to affect markets. Interest rates continue to rise,” he said. “Were trying to manage for that, but this could be pushed from the fall to the spring. Making sure we’re getting appropriate pricing may cause a delay as well.”