Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) First Security Bank plans to consolidate its Missoula offices into a new building planned in the Southgate Triangle, marking one of the first commercial projects to invest in the Midtown area in accordance to the district's emerging master plan.

The bank's $23.5 million investment is expected to set the stage for a new wave of commercial redevelopment within the Midtown core, and with the project built from cross-laminated timber, it could be the first of its kind in the region.

“The Southgate Triangle of Midtown is emerging in the master plan as the top place for commercial redevelopment,” said Melanie Brock with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. “We're excited about this project in Midtown and hope it spurs many new projects. We're seeing happen organically what the data is saying is ripe to happen.”

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency's board of commissioners on Thursday approved $700,000 in tax increment to make a number of public improvements alongside the bank's private investment.

That includes $380,000 to deconstruct rather demolish two old buildings, allowing for materials to be salvaged and reused. It also includes $140,000 in right of way improvements such as public sidewalks, landscaping and the burying of power lines.

Once the project is finished, taxes on the property will more than doubled to around $280,000 annually. That funding will be further reinvested into other public projects throughout the Midtown area.

“The payback on this investment is likely to occur in two to three years. That's considerable,” said Annie Gorski with MRA. “Projects like this generate the property taxes that support city services. It generates the tax increment we can use to reinvest back into public infrastructure projects that benefit the community like parks, trails and infrastructure to support housing.”

The project's location is indicated by the red arrow.
The project's location is indicated by the red arrow.

Scott Burke, president of First Security Bank, said the new facility will strive for a silver rating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The building will be supported by cross-laminated timber, a renewable material that replaces the need for abundant steel, concrete and interior finishes like drywall.

While the bank had a number of locations to chose from, including property on North Reserve, it opted to invest in the Midtown area, Riley said. Once open, the building will employ around 80 people.

“We got to the point where we needed to look at a new facility,” said Burke. “We've very excited about this location. We're committed to that part of town. We've been a major contributor to this district.”

The Midtown Master Plan is nearing a final draft and it's likely that the Southgate Triangle will serve as the district's commercial hub, attracting a range of new investment and redevelopment. At the same time, taxes generated from that investment will enable the city to support other needs, including housing.

Additional housing and density will also enable Mountain Line to run a rapid bus transit system along the Brooks Street corridor. That project also is in the design stages.

“Businesses like First Security Bank have a choice when they make their investment,” said Gorski. “We're pleased they're making their investment in the city limits, as well as within this district.”

This story was corrected to include the proper name of the First Security Bank president at 17:37.