The city’s development arm will attempt to get ahead of growth in the North Reserve and Scott Street area by drafting a comprehensive plan to guide anticipated development.
Last month, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency expressed concern that growth was outpacing the city’s planning efforts in the newly created urban renewal district.
Consumer Direct has already announced plans to construct a $21 million office building in the area, and other tenants, including Costco, are said to be interested in the underutilized district.
“There’s active interest in a lot of properties for a lot of different things,” said Chris Behan, assistant director for MRA. “There’s not a lot of flat land left in the valley, so the area has some significant potential.”
To help guide the agency’s planning efforts, MRA will seek a consultant to draft a comprehensive plan for the area. The document would explore current land use and help set design guidelines and infrastructure needs, including streets and sewer.
Behan said the Urban Land Institute conducted a similar report for the district south of Southgate Mall in 2003. The study was followed in 2006 by the Southgate Area Redevelopment Plan, which set goals for mixed-use development and pedestrian-friendly growth.
Some aspects of the 2006 plan have been realized, including redevelopment of the old Kmart and Village 6 Cinema properties. Work on the Brooks Street corridor is set to begin this year, with a focus on traffic, pedestrian movement and landscaping.
“That (Southgate) plan focused on certain issues that were there, the stumbling blocks to new investment, and how much the municipality could be involved,” Behan said. “This new (North Reserve Street) plan would be similar.”
Behan said any guiding document developed for the North Reserve and Scott Street district must gel with the city’s own growth policy. That policy is being revised and should go to the city’s planning board this summer, followed by the City Council.
Laval Means, senior planner with the city’s Development Services, said the new “Our Missoula” growth policy will incorporate the North Reserve and Scott Street district. The area is of high interest to developers and includes the old White Pine Sash site.
The Department of Environmental Quality ordered in February that 10 acres on the former industrial site be cleaned to residential standards. The land lies within the district and would be included in MRA’s new plan.
“I think there will be general guidance with both the policy side and land use,” Means said of the new growth plan. “But I suspect the MRA process will be more specific to that district.”
Behan said MRA’s plan would not serve as an appendix to the city’s official growth policy. Rather, it would guide the agency’s priorities and decisions, and help direct recommendations made to the city for zoning and transportation.
“There’s no infrastructure out there in parts of that district, and the road that goes through is inadequate for any kind of traffic,” Behan said. “The folks out there in the district and adjacent to the district will have a say in where the future is going to go.”
Last month, Consumer Direct unveiled its plans for a four-story, 65,000-square-foot office building off Old Grant Creek Road in the new Howard Raser Business Park Subdivision.
Costs associated with the project include $459,000 for expanding roads, water mains and utility work. Costs of the improvements would be recovered as new tenants move into the business park.
“As we have already experienced with recently proposed developments in the area, making infrastructure expansion and upgrade decisions without guidance of a more comprehensive plan is difficult,” Behan said.