A local development firm has started construction on a 224-unit apartment complex on Russell Street, and the first unit is set to open by July.
The Farran Group LLC’s new $19.5 million “community” will include seven buildings that will go up one by one during the next 15 months, filling a long-vacant space on the old Intermountain Lumber site.
Demolition work on the site began this week, said Jim McLeod, Farran managing partner.
“Assuming we meet our timeline, you’ll see walls being formed and put up probably in the next four to five weeks. It’s a pretty aggressive timeline,” McLeod said.
Farran is still working on a name for the complex, but pre-leasing for the first completed units could begin in April.
Farran lists a community garden space run in cooperation with Garden City Harvest, secured buildings requiring key access and a 3,500-square-foot clubhouse offering a lounge and outdoor pool among the amenities being built into the project.
Buildings will include studio, one- and two -bedroom units with rents ranging from $600 to $950.
Farran purchased four lots of land on the “blighted” site in 2009, McLeod said.
Farran wants to eventually develop the “front” lots near Russell Street into retail space.
One of the biggest draws of the site, Farran managing partner Pat Corrick thinks, is its location.
“Our criteria was, ‘What is the largest parcel of land closest in proximity to downtown and the core of Missoula?’ ” Corrick said.
Located just north of the Good Food Store and among several other sets of housing complexes, the site has easy access to downtown, the University of Montana, the Clark Fork River and St. Patrick Hospital, Corrick said.
An easement on the property allowed an expansion of the Milwaukee Trail, which connects with several other paths around town.
When planned improvements to the Russell Street corridor are finished, tenants who walk or bike will be able to get downtown or to campus in minutes without needing a car, Corrick said.
Planned development projects nearby, such as at the Sawmill District to the east, are another plus for building there, Corrick said.
Farran’s complex is “one component of larger redevelopment of Missoula. Collectively, the project going on will just really make this area more robust,” Corrick said. “I grew up here, Jim grew up in Butte. We both have a long history with Missoula and having driven Russell Street my whole life, it’s going to be fun to watch the transformation of the corridor.”
McLeod noted that the units created by the complex will fill nearly one-quarter of the need defined in the recently launched quality-of-life initiative signed by city and University of Montana officials. It calls for 1,000 new units of student housing to be built near the university within two years.
While Farran wasn’t a direct participant in the initiative, company representatives did discuss with Mayor John Engen how the complex can help meet the initiative’s goals, McLeod said.
The Missoula Redevelopment Agency board recently approved a tax increment bond for the project to assist with infrastructure items, such as a public street between Russell and Catlin streets and some demolition work, MRA’s Chris Behan said.
Behan estimated it would be around $1 million worth of work.
Behan, like McLeod and Corrick, is excited about how the Farran development will help revitalize the Russell Street corridor.
“There’s a lot of things happening in the area, this kind of development helps more of it happen. I think it will augment some of the ideas happening at the (Sawmill District) site,” Behan said.
Farran is working with mostly local subcontractors on the project and estimated the work will generate $5 million in local wages, McLeod said.
Farran also built the Copper Run apartment complex on Great Northern Avenue and has recently been doing projects around the region.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at email@example.com.