Downtown developer, tenants push back against ‘lies’ around housing project
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
The owner of a downtown apartment building who plans to redevelop the property by adding more units defended his reputation against claims made by one member of City Council in July and at least one public comment since.
Matt Sullivan, owner of MCMB Property Management, was also joined by several of his tenants who backed his reputation as a solid and responsive landlord who has been honest about his family's plans to redevelop the property.
“We did not lie to you,” Sullivan said, adding that he wanted the truth on the record. “The tenants on the Front Street location have been abreast of this development. We feel like our reputation is being damaged and what's being communicated to you is very one sided.”
The project will result in roughly 21 working class apartments, according to Sullivan. That represents an increase in housing in the downtown district and replaces what most agree is a dilapidated property, which the couple purchased with the intent of redeveloping in 2018.
The project became an issue in July when the City Council approved an 850-square-foot easement for fire access in Kiwanis Park. But council member Daniel Carlino attempted to block the easement, saying that doing so would give the city “power over their financial incentive” by preventing the Sullivans from redeveloping their lot.
Carlino was accused by his council peers as being “disingenuous” and creating an “us versus them” scenario while ignoring state law and offering false promises. Nearly two months have since passed and on Monday, several tenants defended Sullivan.
Carlino smirked throughout the testimony.
“I've been renting from them for a year-and-a-half,” said Tara Harrington. “They are communicative and responsive to everything. They've been great landlords.”
Alicia Goff offered a similar sentiment.
“I've rented from (Sullivan) for four years. They have been nothing but prompt and down to earth. I feel really grateful to rent from them. They've been really great to rent from.”
The tenants who remain in the Front Street property said Sullivan has been transparent about his plans for the property. They've been given added time to find a new residence, Sullivan added.
Christopher Fuchs, a tenant of the Front Street property, said that while he'd rather not move, he understands the need to redevelop the site.
“It's a bummer that it's going to get redeveloped but at the same time, it's an older building and I do think that a newer property there would add value to downtown Missoula,” Fuchs told the council. “The whole time I've lived there I've had an affordable place to live, really well below the market value. It's something I'm appreciative to have had. The fact that it's on a month-to-month lease is something of my own doing.”