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A group of developers announced Thursday plans to build a 500-bed housing project specifically designed for University of Montana students in downtown Missoula.

The project will be located on the corner of East Front Street and Clay Street, at the site of the former First Interstate Bank drive-thru, near the Clark Fork River and Kiwanis Park.

The complex will include an outdoor pool, music practice rooms, a ski- and bike-tuning room, a fitness center with a yoga studio, a media room, study lounges, extra storage and retail space along Front Street.

The property also will have full-time on-site management and a secured parking garage with visitor parking spaces.

The project is being financed by Farran Realty Partners and Lambros Developments, both private real estate investment firms based in Missoula.

According to Pat Corrick, the managing partner at Farran, it will be the first privately owned, fully amenitized, purpose-built student housing community designed for UM students.

“This project will be unique for Missoula,” he said. “Most universities with the student population of UM have privately owned apartment communities serving student housing needs. It will provide an attractive option for off-campus housing with a modern, secure and amenity-filled lifestyle for UM students.”

Corrick said the plan is to have units ready for occupancy by May 2017.

“The Lambros family looks forward to being part of a quality urban development in downtown Missoula,” added Peter Lambros. “We believe it’s a win for the University of Montana, the city of Missoula and the students.”

David Olson, the president of First Interstate Bank in Missoula, sold the land to the developers.

“It is important to us that the property being sold is developed to add to the fabric of downtown and respect the architectural history of our community,” he said. “Lambros and Farran are local firms with strong track records.”

Corrick’s firm has worked on the Corso Apartment Homes and the Copper Run at Reserve developments in Missoula. Specific preliminary architectural designs for the new building, including how many stories it will be, haven't been completed yet.

In 2012, UM President Royce Engstrom, Missoula Mayor John Engen and ASUM President Zach Brown signed a memorandum of understanding on the Community Quality of Life Initiative, which established the goal of working with the development community to "break ground on 1,000 units of safe, affordable housing appropriate for students and proximate to the university and downtown Missoula."

Engen and Engstrom are both pleased that the project is coming together, especially since both men have found that creating off-campus housing has been a more difficult proposition than they originally anticipated.

“We’re happy to see the planned 500 new units in a great location near campus and downtown,” Engen said. “And we’re especially pleased that the project is being done by local developers we know and trust.”

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