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A City Council committee gave the green light to move forward with a public hearing on a $1.88 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) request for improvements to public infrastructure around a new six-story downtown hotel.

Developer Andy Holloran of Bozeman is in the initial stages of building a new 70,300-square-foot AC by Marriott hotel at 175 Pattee St., where the old Firestone building is right now. The luxury hotel would come at a total project cost of $23.5 million. It would include 105 guest rooms, a rooftop bar area open to the public, and a basement tenant space for a restaurant.

Because the site lies within the Front Street Urban Renewal District, the developer has asked for the TIF assistance to help pay for the demolition and removal of old structures, and construction of new public curbs, sidewalks, gutters and street tree landscaping. The money would also be used for utility relocation and new streetlights.

Missoula Redevelopment Agency director Ellen Buchanan told the City Council’s Administration and Finance Committee on Wednesday that the developer’s initial budget was lower than it actually is now.

“The private investment number has increased,” she said. “It went up a couple million dollars. So now there’s $12.5 (private) dollars for every public dollar invested.”

The stated goal of the Redevelopment Agency is to encourage redevelopment of blighted areas by diverting new property taxes generated by new projects in those areas away from the city’s general fund. Instead, the money is used to reimburse developers for parts of the project that ostensibly benefit the public.

The finance committee unanimously approved the reimbursement agreement, which means it will still have to go before the full City Council during a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 15, at 140 W. Pine Street.

The new hotel will be built just across the alley from the new Residence Inn by Marriott, which was also built by Holloran.

Several new restaurants are under construction in the ground floor retail spaces of that hotel, including a new Thai restaurant called Zoo Thai, a new Mexican restaurant called The Camino, a new steakhouse and a new salad bar lunch café.

On Tuesday, the Missoula County Commissioners approved a $159,999 Community Development Block Grant revolving loan that will help the owners of The Camino hire eight full-time employees of moderate- to low-income backgrounds. The owners will make payments on the loan for 10 years at a 5.2% interest rate.

The money comes from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which gives out grants to provide communities with resources to address a wide range of community development needs. This loan is specifically geared toward helping business owners hire low-income workers.

Commissioner Josh Slotnick said the rate of delinquency on those types of loans is about 1%, so he feels confident it will get paid back.

“I hope this sets them up for success,” said county Commissioner Dave Strohmaier.

The restaurant is on pace to open in September or October of this year.

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