Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The Missoula City Council on Monday agreed to close and vacate a sliver of ground near the intersection of Front Street and West Broadway, making the parcel easier to develop.

The request to vacate unused public right-of-way the corner of 601 West Broadway was submitted by WGM Group on behalf of Riverfront LLC and was approved by all but two members of council.

“I do see the public benefit,” said council member Daniel Carlino. “It'll be a great use of public space.”

The master plan for the larger Riverfront Triangle details that portion of Front Street as providing public access from Broadway to a plaza located at the center of the seven-acre development.

Access would be open for bicycles and pedestrians but closed to vehicle traffic, and it would tie into the city's larger trail system. But council members John Contos and Sandra Vasecka oppose the plan and Monday night's right-of-way vacation, calling it a “road diet.”

“I won't be supporting it,” Vasecka said.

Wise Enterprise group in 2020 sought and received a rezone for the entire parcel at 601 West Broadway. The agreement struck with the city included a trail easement running behind the parcel along the Clark Fork River, essentially expanding the Riverfront Trail.

At the time, the development team had proposed a multi-story building with a blend of retail and housing, and they suggested that construction would begin last year.

But like other projects lined up in the Riverfront Triangle, the project never broke ground. However, the request to vacate the last piece of right-of-way in the area could suggest plans are again moving forward.

Still, members of the development team haven't released their plans for the property, nor have they offered a timeline.