The Missoula Redevelopment Agency has hired a contractor to study blight in areas of the city and set the stage for possible renovations in the years ahead.

Ellen Buchanan, executive director of MRA, said the agency’s request for proposals, issued Dec. 4, resulted in two firms looking to conduct the study.

One came from Applied Communications, based in Whitefish, while the other was submitted by Community Development Services of Montana, based in Butte.

After reviewing the applicants, the MRA board selected Community Development Services to carry out the work at a cost of no more than $20,000.

Buchanan said the firm had more experience, having helped establish 15 other tax increment financing districts across the state.

“If adequate blight is found and the (city) council agrees, we’ll have them create two new tax increment districts,” said Buchanan. “It’s the strongest economic development tool cities and counties have available to them in Montana.”

The Missoula City Council gave MRA the green light in late October to study two portions of the city for blight, including areas north of the railroad tracks between North Reserve and Scott streets.

The second area, often referred to as a gateway to Missoula, covers areas south of Interstate 90 between Madison Street and the planned location of Missoula College on East Broadway.

Construction on the $32 million college is expected to begin in late 2014. Many expect the project to set the stage for further redevelopment of Missoula’s east end.

“We will have the studies done in six months, along with urban renewal plans,” Buchanan said. “The City Council will then consider passing an ordinance creating the districts.”

The tax increment financing districts help direct any growth in new property taxes generated within a defined boundary toward redevelopment, such as the district established in downtown Missoula between 1980 and 2005.

During that time, Buchanan said, the downtown district generated $20 million in financing, leveraging $200 million in other investments within the boundary.

Those investments included the Van Buren Street pedestrian bridge, Caras Park and other building projects in downtown Missoula.

“All of the growth in property taxes is reinvested back into the districts,” Buchanan said. “It’s a powerful tool.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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(7) comments

Miss Perfect
Miss Perfect

take my sweaty money to economically benefit a few? That is not what taxes are for.

Miss Perfect
Miss Perfect

tax increment financing districts help direct any growth in new property taxes generated within a defined boundary toward redevelopment,

**** When will you people ever learn?

David1
David1

Missoula ignores the fundamental purpose of Missoula College: To educate Missoula students for occupations in Missoula business/industry and to provide the first two years of a bachelor's degree. That's IT!

So, what does Missoula see in Missoula College? Just a means of providing a nice facade to East Broadway so people will patronize business there, more. To blazes with education! What a money-hungry bunch. Missoula College is not just some other business.

Missoula College would fulfill its educational mission far better for Missoula students and business/industry by consolidating what are now 3 campuses into one campus at its West Campus near Ft. Missoula. The tragedy of Missoula College in Missoula just continues.

libertarian
libertarian

This is all about the money and keeping the MRA going. These area's are doing fine with new restaurants and new car dealerships along with re-built McDonalds on East Broadway. We don't need these districts and the higher taxes we'll pay to support them. The language in the study indicates these districts are a done deal. And with the current make up of the council these districts will pass. People and business need to make some noise and defeat these districts if possible. Will the Chamber come out against these Districts and support their membership. That's a good question I hope they will answer.

Re-Made in Montana
Re-Made in Montana

You do realize that we live in a society right? A group of people who work together to make a functioning community and thus lead happier, more productive lives. If you prefer to prefer not to work toward those collective goals then maybe you need to move to a homestead in the Alaskan back country where there is no infrastructure to support. The Urban Redevelopment Districts actually do a lot to benefit the areas of focus which in turn improves property values and draws business. Fact.

Objective observer
Objective observer

To members of the tea party, anything planning related is by definition a world government conspiracy dictated by Agenda 21 and must be opposed at all costs.

libertarian
libertarian

These groups of people and business can work together without the help of the MRA. What is your definition of blight? These area's are expanding without this taxing district with new businesses so it's not needed. Usually when a city declares a section blighted, the city wants to condemn the property and give it to developers for more tax revenue. In the end it's all about collecting more taxes and wasting money on things we don't need. All we do with these district is subsidize the competition, since other business will be paying higher taxes.
http://reason.com/archives/2006/01/01/giving-away-the-store-to-get-a http://reason.com/archives/2012/03/20/california-kills-redevelopment

Montana isn't California, but the same principles apply.

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