Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A Missoula couple plans to invest $5.7 million to develop eight townhomes on a small parcel off Garfield Street and offer future residents an option to buy at a later date.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency's board of commissioner last week approved $257,000 in tax increment toward the project to cover the demolition of an existing structure, to relocate overhead utilities lines, and to extend sewer and water mains to the property.

The extension will serve Trailfront Properties, proposed by Irena and Todd Henry in Urban Renewal District II. It could also benefit other projects that may redevelop in the area in the coming years.

“It acts as a catalyst for infill development of this other property. There's some chatter of some housing redevelopment to occur there. They'll be able to connect to sewer and water in this area,” said Tod Gass, a project manager with MRA.

As proposed, the project will result in eight new “missing middle” housing units at the corner of Garfield and Trail streets. It will also preserve an existing home on the property.

A rendering of the project.
A rendering of the project.

The new townhomes will range in size from 1,750 square feet to 1,850 square feet. A price point hasn't been set, though Todd Henry said rent will be “reasonable.”

“Our plan is to rent these homes with a two-year option to buy,” he said. “We'll owner finance it. It will give them home ownership easier than going to a conventional bank. It makes the ship float a little higher.”

The property sits in an area that remains a mix of residential and light industrial, though it's now trending more toward housing. A number of other infill projects have been developed on neighboring or surrounding properties in recent years.

A large parcel across the street from Trailfront Properties remains undeveloped, though it too could see housing in the near future, said Gass.

“We're seeing housing projects develop intermittently over here,” said Gass. “This project continues that trend. They've been working with the city for over a year now.”

The current tax bill for the property is $9,500. After redevelopment, the bill will increase to $53,000 a year. Gass said the increase will effectively repay MRA's investment in roughly 10 years.