Big changes are underway in downtown Missoula as prominent buildings have come under new ownership, several businesses have moved out and new endeavors are moving in.
Nick Caras of Access Property Management, along with a business partner, recently purchased the historic Hammond Arcade building on the southwest corner of Higgins Avenue and Front Street, along with the Coffee Annex building next door to the south. Caras is in the process of implementing some deferred maintenance on the building. He also purchased an office building at 415 N. Higgins, which is now called the Missoula Business Center.
At the Hammond Arcade, several longtime tenants are moving to new locations, while others are moving in. A cookie company called Mary’s Mountain Cookies recently moved into the space formerly occupied by the Amira Rug Gallery, which relocated to Modory Home Furnishings at 1121 W. Kent Ave.
Small Wonders Futons, a company that began selling handmade, natural futons in the Hammond Arcade building 28 years ago, will relocate to 3535 W. Broadway, Suite No. 2, by Monday, Oct. 23.
Noteworthy Paper & Press, a 10-year-old company that sells wholesale and retail stationary, greeting cards and gifts made on antique machinery, will be relocating to the old Missoula Food Bank building on South Third Street in the Hip Strip neighborhood, across from Bernice’s Bakery.
The Hammond Arcade building isn't the only one changing. Up the street a few blocks, Flathead Lake Brewing Company of Missoula announced its closure after eight years because the building the company rents at 424 N. Higgins will be sold. The restaurant's last day was Sunday.
Back at the Hammond Arcade, Caras said he already has a tenant that is close to signing a new lease for the space occupied by Noteworthy. He also hopes to attract a new food and beverage business for the old Small Wonders Futons space, once he completes the deferred maintenance.
“Demand’s been pretty strong,” Caras said. “We get a lot of calls and are entertaining potential new options. I think those spaces will all be full by this time next year.”
The Hammond Arcade building was built in 1933 after the original multi-story building in that location burned down. Caras bought it from the Coffee family, and still has the “Mad Men”-style office furniture that well-respected local businessman John Coffee kept downstairs before he died.
“We’re just kind of upgrading the building as needed,” Caras said. “Our intention is to lease them. The building has a lot of life, and we’re trying to bring more life into it.”
The building has several other tenants, including El Cazador, a Mexican restaurant, a sushi bowl restaurant called The Poke Bowl, a crystal shop and several beauty-centered businesses.
Taylor Valliant and Amy Dolan own Noteworthy Paper & Press. Valliant said the new space in the old Missoula Food Bank building on Third Street will allow the business to expand its growing wholesale arm. Over the past few years, they’ve ramped up from distributing to a few shops to hundreds of outlets across the United States, Canada and as far as Japan.
“Now we’ll all be on one level with good ventilation and we’ll be able to streamline our production,” she said. “We print our own greeting cards using letterpress printing on antique machinery. In the old space, that was in the basement. In the new space, everyone will be able to see our workshop on the sales floor in action every day.”
The business plans to host other “makers,” as Valliant refers to local craft manufacturers, in their shop during First Friday shows. For the company’s grand opening in its new location on First Friday, Nov. 3, it will host Jeremy Haas of Pinch Flat Manufacturing, who makes leather goods by hand. There also will be live music, studio tours and live letterpress demonstrations.
Teala Anderson of Small Wonders Futons said the company has been one of the pillars of the downtown business community for 28 years. She’s a little sad to leave, but the new location will make it easier for shipping and delivery needs. The new location is near Bullfrog Spas, just past Reserve Street on West Broadway.
“That’s one of the positives of moving,” she said. The company makes futons by hand using no formaldehyde, instead relying on minimally processed cotton and wool sheared locally.
The owners of Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Missoula could not be reached by phone. However, owners Carla Mancini and Sandy Johnston posted on the company Facebook page that Sunday, Oct. 8, was the restaurant’s last day.
“We got word, a few months ago, that the building we rent from is under a deal to be sold and so we decided to move onto new adventures,” they wrote. “As a sister of Flathead Lake Brewing Co. (in Bigfork) we have loved representing their ales and will enjoy being able to still purchase them around Missoula since Flathead Lake Brewing Co. beer is going nowhere.”