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Draft agreement for Missoula "Hotel Fox" development approved - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Draft agreement for Missoula "Hotel Fox" development approved

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Developer Dieter Huckestein of Hotel Fox Partners. (Dennis Bragg photo) Developer Dieter Huckestein of Hotel Fox Partners. (Dennis Bragg photo)
MISSOULA -

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency has green-lit a landmark agreement to develop a multi-million-dollar hotel and conference center at the Riverfront Triangle.

But the move doesn't come without a few awkward moments.

The city has spent five years hammering out a plan with Hotel Fox Partners to build the new hotel and expanded conference center above the Clark Fork River off Orange Street.

Now, after extensive talks, the city has a draft development agreement for HFP building the hotel, parking garage and conference center, with Missoula eventually taking over ownership of the garage and main conference facility.

"This is the project that establishes all those pieces that I've mentioned that have been envisioned now for 30-some years," said Chris Behan with the MRA.

The MRA board blessed the proposal on Thursday, directing staff to work out a final agreement. However, a coalition of labor and community groups continue to press for HFP to sign a "labor peace agreement", committing to higher paying jobs and unions for the project's workers.

But when developer Dieter Huckestein of Hotel Fox Partners said that could put the entire project in jeopardy, the MRA board agreed to deal with those questions in later contracts.

However, a coalition of labor and community groups continue to press for HFP to sign a "labor peace agreement," committing to higher paying jobs and unions for the project's workers. Developers said those details would be worked out later, and insisting on the inclusion now and could threaten the entire project.

"There's lots of checks and balances moving through the process to make sure that what has been designed and agreed upon, approved by the city, is what actually gets delivered," said Pat Corrick with Farran Realty Partners.

"I don't see any reason that we can not talk later on. You know, I'm not opposing that. I mean, you know. But let's get the hotel open. I mean if you want to jeopardize this whole project because of a kind of neutrality statement. I think that would be dangerous," Huckestein said.

MRA staff worried forcing a labor agreement countered the city's objectives…

"But for years and years and years, for almost 40-years we have supported projects that created jobs and private enterprise," MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said.

The board endorsed the draft plan, telling staff to work up a master agreement, and urging developers to continue discussions with the community groups.

"There's lots of checks and balances moving through the process to make sure that what has been designed and agreed upon, approved by the city, is what actually gets delivered," Corrick stated.

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