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Blackfoot River Outfitters

An architectural rendering of the new building

A new fishing and outfitting store is coming to North Russell Street, while the Consumer Direct offices near North Reserve Street are expanding into a new building.

Blackfoot River Outfitters won approval from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board on Thursday for $80,582 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for site demolition of a blighted old building, landscaping public areas, and sewer main extension. The company is building a new $1.6 million headquarters at 235 N. Russell St. that will include a rooftop patio space.

“There are several properties along Russell Street that are currently vacant or underdeveloped for an arterial street in the urban core,” explained MRA assistant director Chris Behan. “This project may attract attention to the area as one with high redevelopment potential, high visibility for retail uses, and easier access once the Russell Street bridge and street widening project are finished.”

The project should be completed in early 2020 and will create around two jobs. Because the building includes space for additional tenants, those might create jobs as well. The project will generate new property taxes of $12,000 per year, which will go to pay back the TIF assistance over six years.

At the same meeting, the MRA board approved allowing Consumer Direct to move forward with a new $10 million, 31,500-square-foot second building to accommodate its rapid employee growth. Consumer Direct is a national home-health management company headquartered in Missoula. It moved into a $23 million new office near North Reserve Street in 2017 but has already outgrown that.

“Growth has been happening much faster than they anticipated,” Behan explained. “They’re kind of a secret. We talk about all the high-tech businesses in town that aspire to have 200 employees. Well, there’s 300 out here (at Consumer Direct) and they’re hiring more. They don’t make a big splash. They just do their business out there but I think it’s worth pointing out.”

The office is in the North Reserve/Scott Street Urban Renewal District, so the company wanted the board’s approval to proceed on work on the parking lot and public infrastructure without precluding that work from being included in a future Tax Increment Financing Assistance application.

The board also approved a $50,000 Façade Improvement Program request from the Westside Lanes bowling alley. That business recently completed $521,000 worth of interior improvements and is now remodeling the exterior to increase safety in the parking lot and differentiate between the bowling alley and the bar/casino entrance.

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