Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) An old gravel pit in a growing corner of Missoula could find new life as an economic development district, with future tax revenue going toward public infrastructure to fund jobs, housing and redevelopment.

Missoula County last week signed an agreement with Pioneer Technical Services to create the new Targeted Economic Development District (TEDD). While the process is still young, the district would be located just west of Reserve Street and south of Interstate 90.

“It's an old gravel pit that's been reclaimed,” said Andrew Hagemeier, a senior county planner. “It's a fantastic place to enjoy some redevelopment – some industrial and commercial development and some housing as well, given its proximity to existing services.”

The county has created several TEDDs in recent years including the development park near the airport and the Bonner Mill. More recently, it created two districts near the Wye and is now looking to create a similar district on roughly 19 acres at Grant Creek Crossing.

Like an Urban Renewal District in the city, TEDDs capture tax increment and redirect it toward public infrastructure, which in turn fuels redevelopment and creates jobs. It's one of the only economic development tools available to local governments in Montana.

“This is real, live economic development, and thanks to the Legislature, workforce housing is now part of TEDDs,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “We're excited to add this to our array of TEDDs across Missoula County.”

Sterling CRE
Sterling CRE

Early last year, portions of the property were identified for a potential mixed-use development. At the time, the property's listing agent said future redevelopment could include commercial uses, medical offices, retail, professional services and multi-family housing.

The agent said the development team was vetting potential partners. The conceptual site plan suggested a number of commercial retail pads, along with multi-story housing. Changes made by the Legislature have since redefined workforce housing as infrastructure, qualifying it for tax increment.

Karen Hughes, the county's director of planning, said the private sector brought forward the proposal to place the property into a TEDD.

Most of the property's parcels are undeveloped due to a lack of infrastructure. The contract with Pioneer Technical will include a statement of infrastructure deficiency and a comprehensive development plan.

“It's one of those great public-private partnerships,” said Hughes. “The increment it accrues can go toward public infrastructure for that kind of development can occur. It creates jobs in our community.”