A year after a local investor pulled the plug on a proposed hotel and entertainment venue in downtown Missoula, a new line of investors may be ready to step in and redevelop several properties within the district.

Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, said Thursday that her office was working with a number of developers interested in building in the Riverfront Triangle.

The property is comprised of several lots and is master planned to include a mix of housing, office and commercial uses.

“We continue to work with multiple developers,” Buchanan said. “One is particularly interested in the residential and office building piece of it, which the city does not own the land under.”

Efforts to redevelop the Riverfront Triangle have been decades in the making, including property at the corner of Orange and Front streets, which the city owns.

A master agreement for that parcel was signed in 2017 between the city and Hotel Fox Partners, a development team that planned to build a hotel and conference center. The group also purchase several surrounding properties and master planned the entire project to include the addition of housing, office and commercial uses.

In 2019, however, Clark Fork Riverfront Properties assumed the development rights from Hotel Fox for the city-owned parcel. It too intended to construct the hotel and entertainment venue. The project was set to break ground last year when the pandemic hit.

While the economic impacts put an end to the hotel project, Buchanan said a new team of developers is interested in the city-owned parcel. It's unknown if their plans include the hotel and entertainment venue.

“A different assortment of folks are interested in the anchor the city owns that (Clark Fork Riverfront Properties) was looking at,” Buchanan said. “We've got some other developers potentially interested in doing some development there.”

Buchanan said “something definitive” could be coming in the coming month or two.

A separate project planned by Wise Enterprise Group at 601 W. Broadway received zoning approval from the City Council last September. Nothing of the project has been publicly discussed since then. 

Planned improvements to Caras Park as detailed in the new Downtown Master Plan.
Planned improvements to Caras Park as detailed in the new Downtown Master Plan.

Just up the river, Buchanan said plans to make improvements to Caras Park are expected to move forward later this year. Work there will piggyback on a stormwater project that will impact the amphitheater and green space within the park.

Tying improvements to the stormwater project will save funding for park improvements, since the work was slated to take place anyway.

“The Downtown Business Improvement District is raising $1 million for park improvements,” Buchanan said. “The plan is to start construction in October.”