Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The bulk of Missoula's housing development in each of the last two years has taken place in the city's greater Mullan area, though it shouldn't come as a surprise given the millions of dollars invested into infrastructure and road improvements in the area.

City planners on Wednesday released the latest data derived from the Our Missoula Development Guide's annual yearbook for 2021 and 2022. The information provides insight as to where the city is growing and what areas could be next.

“It's used as a tracking mechanism for residential development and tries to answer the question if infrastructure is aligning with where housing is going,” said city planner Marc Hendrickson. “It also serves as a tool for agencies to use to evaluate investments and capital improvement projects.”

The data found that 304 residential permits were issued in 2020, accounting for more than 1,360 dwelling units. Of those, 37% of the permits were issued in the Mullan area while 27% were issued in the city's central region.

Another 15% landed in the Reserve and Russell street corridors while all other areas accounted for 5% or less of all development permits issued, Hendrickson said.

The next year saw a similar trend with 279 residential permits issued for 989 dwelling units. Of those, 63% were permitted in the Mullan area while 7% landed in the Reserve and Russell street corridors, along with Miller Creek, the Brooks Street corridor and the city's central region.

All other areas accounted for 5% or less of all residential permits in 2022, Hendrickson said.

“For both 2021 and 2022, 1,907 dwelling units were permitted within multi-dwelling complexes,” Hendrickson said. “It accounted for 73% of all development. That's more than in the prior years.”

While some have been critical of Missoula's lack of affordable housing, the data found that more than 400 units of subsidized housing were permitted last year – more than the prior 10 years combined.

The Villagio affordable housing project is now move-in ready. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)
The Villagio affordable housing project is now move-in ready. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)
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Hendrickson said that both single and duplex building permits have averaged around 220 permits per year in each of the past few years. Multi-family permits doubled in 2021 and remained elevated in 2022 when compared to the average, Hendrickson said.

“The 2015 growth policy stated that we'd need an average of 450 to 700 dwelling units built per year for a growth rate of 1.2% to 1.7% to accommodate expected growth,” Hendrickson said. “Since 2011, the average dwelling units per year is 671 and the average annual growth rate is 1.59%.”

But 2021 and 2022 saw a significant jump in the average, with a growth rate of 3.02% and 2.28%, respectively. And with the number of entitled lots – or those in the preliminary phase – there's still room in the study area for a significant number of homes.

The bulk of those entitled lots waiting to be developed also lie in Miller Creek and the Mullan areas, Hendrickson said.

“They have the largest amount of entitlements remaining,” he said. “The city tracks the development of entitlements to gather data on what percent of new development is occurring on these entitlements in any given year. The average over the past 11 years has been around 30%.”

“So we can safely assume this average will remain and we know generally where 30% of all residential development will go in future years.”

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Missoula Housing Trends

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