The city of Missoula plans to temporarily purchase a half-acre parcel along East Broadway for about $326,000, put a trail easement across the land, then resell it for development.
The idea to purchase the property came after its developer, Brian Walker and BTW Inc., submitted plans for a seven-unit condominium project to the city’s Development Services. As the project was being reviewed, staff noticed that while an easement was agreed upon in the 1970s for a subdivision Missoula County approved, the paperwork wasn’t signed by any commissioners. Instead, a subsequent document was signed by an engineer and surveyor, according to Dale Bickell, the chief administrative officer for the city, and Jim Nugent, city attorney.
While a footpath currently goes through the parcel, linking it to Ron’s River Trail, the developer wanted to put part of the condominium development over the footpath.
“That second document was supposedly showing the trail, but it’s not clear where it is,” Nugent told the city council on Wednesday. “It seems like it might be over the embankment and down closer to the river itself.”
In order to avoid possible litigation, the council gave initial approval to move forward with the purchase of the parcel, which Walker and BTW agreed to sell to the city. Missoula will use a low-interest Intercap loan through the Montana Board of Investments.
The city would then apply for an unspecified amount of Open Space Bond funds to create the easement, then sell it to an individual or organization for use as a housing development, possibly for low-income tenants or owners.
The lot is adjacent to the Creekside apartments and Taco Bell offices, with a street address of 1505 East Broadway.