Construction is finally expected to begin June 25 on a new four-story, high-end condominium building in the 46-acre Old Sawmill District near Ogren-Allegiance Park, marking a long-awaited step in the redevelopment of the former industrial site in the heart of Missoula.
Besides the condos, a team of developers operating under the name the Old Sawmill District is also working on plans for a boutique, purpose-built, 200-bed student residence; a brewpub restaurant; an executive-style residential and commercial project; sustainable workforce housing; and perhaps a neighborhood market, gym and office space.
Called Polleys Square A, the first building will feature 20 residential condos and a corner commercial area that will at first be used as a development site office, but eventually will house a neighborhood coffee shop, gift shop, sandwich shop or similar small business.
Polleys Square will eventually take up a full block within the Old Sawmill District and will consist of four condo buildings of 18 to 24 units each and a private courtyard.
Its design will be reminiscent of an early European village mixed with local historical features. About half of the condos are already reserved, and the rest are on the market for between $260,000 and $305,000.
The new building will be located on the south side of Wyoming Street on the northwest corner of the block, and it is expected to be ready for move-in by May 2016.
The project will feature secure underground parking, electric vehicle charging options, energy-efficient designs and a fiber-optic cable will be installed for super high-speed Internet access.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Leslie Wetherbee of Windermere Real Estate. “We’ve been working on this for a very long time. My husband Ed Wetherbee and (redevelopment partner) Kevin Mytty started 13 years ago on getting control of the property. We took a blighted area that was abandoned for 25 years and we are breathing new life into it. Nobody thought it would take this long, but the financing is in place and it’s all green lights now.”
A lumber mill once operated on the site, but closed in 1992. Because of extensive pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality had to remove 10,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste and 30,000 cubic yards of woody debris before the site was declared habitable.
An estimated $200 million in private development will eventually be going into the entire property, which is expected to be fully completed by 2022.
The city of Missoula has spent more than $12 million so far, according to the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. The city opened the 14.5-acre Silver Park along the banks of the Clark Fork River last June.
Homeword Inc., a local nonprofit, is building a 26-unit affordable housing complex at the west end of the site near California Street.
"This has been a collaborative effort involving the city and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency that has spanned more than a decade," said Ellen Buchanan, director of the MRA. "We are excited to see this new residential project poised to come out of the ground and set the tone for a new Missoula neighborhood.”
Polleys Square is named after the founder of the original mill's first owner, Edgar Harvey Polleys, and his son Edgar Garwood Polleys. The elder Polleys opened a lumber company in 1910 and is credited with keeping the mill open and workers employed during the Great Depression.
“This project is an exciting new option for homeownership at an amazing new location in Missoula," Wetherbee said of the new condo building. "Being right there by Silver Park, this will be beautiful and such a great addition to the city right there at the hub of the trail system. It’s a five- to 10-minute walk to downtown and a 20-minute walk to the university. It has easy access to the California Street bridge and the trails to the Southgate Mall. There’s over 22 miles of trails connected to the site and that number is always increasing.”
Wetherbee said a local brewery is going to be putting in the pub with food and beverage options. She said the brewery has asked to not be named, but said it is expected to start construction this fall.
The parcel to the west of Polleys Square will be a mixed-use commercial space for executive-style rentals.
“There is a real need for high-end rentals in town,” Wetherbee explained. “There are a lot of people who are in town for six months or are in transition or people who are just tired of owning. We have had interest from a workout facility. There is the possibility of a neighborhood market and other restaurants as well. There are several office spaces in there and some other projects that I can’t talk about. There will be a lot going on this summer and fall.”
The condos will feature energy-efficient heat pumps in each unit and high-efficiency water heaters, along with extra insulation and double-pane glass windows and doors. Each condo has its own deck and storage unit, and there will be elevator access and gas range and fireplace options for the third and fourth floors.
“After 13 years preparing the land, we are super excited to see this happening,” said Mytty. “The developers of Polleys Square have started this with a very attractive project that people will be proud to live in.”