New investors eye Missoula’s Riverfront Triangle, master development on ‘expedited timeline’
A team of developers focused on the Mountain West said Thursday they plan to step into the Riverfront Triangle project and begin construction as soon as the Second or Third quarter of next year, including a hotel and performance venue, housing, office and retail.
The project, which includes one parcel owned by the city and several surrounding properties, has been proposed for redevelopment for more than 30 years and was close to breaking ground in 2020 before a global pandemic stopped it in its tracks.
Now, Capital V Partners has picked up the pieces and is wrapping up due diligence. The firm intends to purchase all seven acres and develop it in a single master plan with the backing of its partners and investors.
“The Riverfront Triangle has been a challenged property for a variety of reasons,” said Dean Bosacki. “A pandemic is not the easiest thing to develop around, but other reasons as well. This project is a perfect marriage of our ability to take on tough projects and get this done and transform Missoula's downtown core.”
Developing the Riverfront Triangle was planned by a series of previous property owners and included a hotel and concert venue, housing, office, retail and parking. The proposal was widely hailed for its ability to grow the city's tax base, bring economic gain to businesses, provide jobs and housing, and add vibrancy to city's core.
Bosacki said the vision remains unchanged.
“We are looking to bring a very vibrant, community-minded hub of activity to Missoula's downtown core,” he said. “This will be an economic flywheel providing tons of opportunities and tax revenue to the city, as well as a culturally minded experience that also provides much needed housing opportunities for families at all levels.”
The City Council has already approved aspects of the project that are expected to take place on city property including zoning, street vacations and development guidelines. It also has provided EPA loans for cleanup on the site and surrounding properties, including asbestos removal.
The proposal has had broad support from city leaders and the public, and that enthusiasm has returned with a new development team that has the financial clout to complete the work.
“The city has been working on the development of this site for 30 years,” said MRA board chair Karl England. “Master developing the entire site minimizes the construction disruption, maximizes the efficiencies and makes it easier for the city to figure out the infrastructure needs.”
Project partners said a wide array of retail opportunities would also come with the project, bringing new jobs to the city's core. It would maintain plans for an entertainment venue, growing the city's cultural amenities. It also includes a hospitality venue as envisioned in the publicly-crafted Downtown Master Plan.
As proposed, the project would also include housing opportunities across a variety of income levels, according to the developers. The results of the project would greatly enhance downtown Missoula's western edge.
“One of the critical things that's part of our mission is that our projects generate new employment opportunities. This provides an opportunity for new retail businesses,” England said. “It also enhances the riverfront trail system in which we have put so many resources into for so many years.”
Sadek Darwiche, also a member of the team, said the firm's core operating principles include authenticity, community, innovation and social responsibility. Capital V Partners, which primarily operates in the Mountain West, has completed more than $2 billion worth of projects, some larger than their plans for the Riverfront Triangle.
“We believe in operating a lot of our projects and because of that, we tend to look at things a little differently,” he said. “We have a lot of experience around a variety of areas. This particular project meets and checks all the boxes for us.”
Darwiche said the team has been working directly with MRA and other city departments for several months and together, they have agreed to the critical paths forward. They intended to expedite the development by “stepping into the existing project” with an eye on construction next summer.
“We've spent the last several months digging into due diligence and meeting with the various partners, trying to understand the main components,” Darwiche said. “We've gained a real comfort with the hurdles and the areas we need to work on. We feel we're in a comfortable space.”
Bosacki agreed and said the team feels confident in their current position.
“We are comfortable that by stepping into the project we can move it forward on an expedited timeline,” he said. “There are certainly headwinds in this industry, but the nice thing about this project is that it's been on everyone's radar for so long that when you do talk to them about it, they're willing to shift everything aside and make it a priority as well.”