Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) While plans to develop nine acres owned by the City of Missoula off Scott Street continue to move forward, the development team is seeking to rezone five acres to better align with surrounding zoning and to allow for added density.

The Consolidated Planning Board unanimously recommend the city approve the request earlier this month with a unanimous vote.

If the City Council grants the rezone next week, it would permit Ravara LLC to increase the building height from 50 to 65 feet, or roughly one story, and provide around 224 dwelling units.

The number of dwelling units would be the same without the rezone, according to city planner Tera Porgari. But with a shorter building height, the development would lose precious greenspace within its boundaries.

“It's pretty much a one-story difference,” Porgari said on Monday night. “The added height will hopefully allow the development to get closer to the maximum density allowed in the zoning district while allowing a landscaped area by building up.”

A rendering of the proposed housing and plaza.
A rendering of the proposed housing and plaza in the Scott Street project.

Ravara plans to develop 9 of the 19-acres owned by the city off Scott Street. Three acres will provide 70 deed-restricted housing units on a community land trust in a blend of condos and townhomes. Such affordable housing was required as part of the agreement struck between Ravara and the city.

The remaining six acres will include market-rate housing, a plaza and a range of commercial amenities. The additional 15 feet in height is needed to design a pleasing project while preserving green space within its boundaries, the city has said.

“Staff supports the requested zoning district because it complies with the growth-policy recommendation for this area,” said Porgari. “All uses, densities and building standards remain the same, with the exception of an additional 15 feet in maximum building height.”

Plans for the property have been gaining momentum and clarity over the last two years, though progress remains slow.

However, earthwork is expected to begin soon, and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency is expected to seek City Council permission in the coming weeks or months to issue a bond of $4 million or more to fund the infrastructure needed to support the planned development.

“We are still waiting on the results of some soil sampling that was required on the site. Consequently, the soil removal and site prep continues to be delayed,” said MRA Director Ellen Buchanan. “Fortunately, all of the samples that have been tested so far have come back with no issues. Due to the backlog at the Department of Environmental Quality, it may be February before we begin removing material from the site in preparation for infrastructure installation.”