A team of developers looking to build entry-level housing on Missoula’s Northside received a big boost Thursday from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, which placed its initial support behind the project.
The agency’s board of directors voted to approve Edgell Construction’s request for $518,230 in tax increment financing to help complete the project’s first phase, pending a number of contingencies.
Because a portion of the development will require bonding, the Missoula City Council must vote to issue debt, which First Security Bank has agreed to purchase, according to the MRA.
While a number of hurdles remain, the board’s approval signaled the city’s initial thumbs up to what developers described as entry-level housing, constructed in a district now cluttered with the shuttered relics of an industrial past.
“Missoula is going to struggle with entry-level housing in the next five or 10 years,” said Collin Bangs, who is helping developers on the project. “The demand is much higher than supply. It’s a problem we have to get behind and work on.”
Dubbed the Scott Street Village, the project would include 11 single-family homes and 17 townhomes in phase 1, with construction possibly starting next year. Phase 2 would add 13 additional single-family homes and 12 townhomes.
The entry-level homes would start at roughly $150,000, well below the median price of a Missoula home, which currently sits at around $235,000.
The project’s final phase would include a 50-unit multi-family project. All told, roughly 103 new housing units would be created with the project, much of them sold as workforce housing.
Developers placed the cost of the project at roughly $8 million to $10 million. The subdivision would require significant infrastructure improvements, including the extension of Rodgers Street to the west, and water and sewer taken off Scott Street.
“The bank is not in a position to sit on this property and wait for us to make up our mind,” said Bangs. “It’s a perfect fit to start the extension of the housing we need. The neighborhood has fought for housing, and everyone has said we should do it. You’re the people who tell us if we can.”
Developers said TIF assistance is needed to sell the homes for an entry-level price. They wanted to begin construction this year, though they’ve since slowed their timeline to allow the city room to develop its master plan for the area.
The North Reserve and Scott Street Urban Renewal District (URD) is still new and represents a complicated mix of planned residential, industrial and commercial uses.
Given the undeveloped state of the area, the city must determine how it will route truck traffic along Scott Street to access the city landfill, said Chris Behan, assistant director of MRA.
The city is asking developers to hold off on their project until the long-term transportation issues are resolved.
“The developer would not like to have a truck route through their new neighborhood,” said Behan. “The two groups (the city and the developer) have agreed to delay initiating construction and further discussions until progress is made on the master plan.”
The project’s first phase is likely to cost $4.5 million and would take place on the property’s eastern edge closest to Scott Street. Additional phases would continue the project westward.
“What we have is a deal in place with First Security Bank to purchase the bond, though we still have to work out some of the details,” said Behan. “It would have to go to City Council, because they’re the only ones that can authorize debt.”
Developers said the homes would be similar to those available at the Windsor Park subdivision and include a variety of models ranging from 1,300 square feet and up. The townhomes would also vary in size.
The project is planned for the old Clawson Manufacturing site, just north of the White Pine Sash location.
“Although the property is adjacent to the White Pine Superfund site, studies show there are apparently no soil contamination issues from White Pine, or from onsite operations,” Behan said. “This is exactly what we were hoping for on that edge of the district.”