Post Larchmont vote, Missoula County land inventory reveals little for housing
By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
When Missoula County passed on an offer to develop the Larchmont Golf Course into housing in exchange for a new golf course nearby, commissioners charged staff to review all county land holdings to determine if any could be used for housing.
In the eight months that have passed, county officials said the work hasn't revealed any silver bullets that could be set aside for redevelopment into housing and other uses.
“There's one or two parcels that are really obvious in downtown Missoula, but 95% of our parks that we don't really want because they don't act as parks are either in the floodplain or are too steep,” said Emily Brock, the county's director of economic and land development.
Commissioners last December passed on a proposal presented by BlueLine Development to redevelop Larchmont into a new neighborhood with housing, senior housing, medical office space and retail.
In exchange, the group offered to build a new golf course nearby. In voting against the proposal, commissioners directed staff to complete a countywide inventory of publicly owned land to determine what else was out there and if it could be set aside for redevelopment.
Brock didn't name any specific parcels, but said the county was still collecting technical information.
“We have created a tool and we're going through various county holdings,” Brock said. “It's looking at each park, if it has a master plan, and any history that's not on the legal documents.”
The City of Missoula owns a number of parcels it has reserved for housing redevelopment, including 9 acres off Scott Street that will soon see a mix of market-rate housing and permanently affordable housing.
Last month, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency also approved a $25,000 contract to have the Missoula Economic Partnership identify and vet potential partners to redevelop several other key city properties.
Under the contract, MEP will focus largely on three properties including the old library block downtown, the Missoula Water building off West Broadway, and property off Johnson Street. The city will also direct its realtor to find a partner to redevelop the Sleepy Inn property.
As for the county, Brock said the review hasn't turned up much. Still, she said the county will conduct public outreach this fall to discuss the results and options moving forward.
“There was a budget request in to do an engagement process in the fall on the information we do have,” Brock said. “We'll have a better sense of what we have and we'll have a community conversation around the values piece.”