-Martin Kidston reporting for the Missoula Current
LOLO – A Missoula real estate broker and a local developer plan to break ground on a collection of apartments in Lolo this spring, the first of three phases that will bring more than 70 housing units and retail properties to the area when finished.
Jessie Eagen with Eagen Real Estate in Missoula, who serves as the project’s broker, said work on Lolo Peak Village will begin in May. The project includes financial backing from Cornerstone Commercial Investors.
“We’re just getting ready to break ground on the first phase, which is a 34-unit apartment complex,” Eagen said Thursday. “We’re hoping to have the first units available by October.”
The first phase of Lolo Peak Village includes 34 residential units provided in a collection of six buildings, each with four to six apartments. The project is loosely slated for the corner of Ridgeway Drive and Highway 93.
Eagen said groundbreaking is slated for 11 acres formerly owned by the late Earl “Doc” Pryun.
“It’s that gravel pit that’s been sitting there for years,” Eagen said. “It’ll be a big improvement.”
The project’s developer, Al Zepada of Zepada Homes, also developed an apartment complex in East Missoula and is co-owner of the Lolo Peak Brewery. The latter sits across the street from the planned Lolo Peak Village.
Zepada couldn’t immediately be reached Thursday for comment, though Eagen said Zepada’s long-range plan will transform the area into something of a village with housing and ameneties.
“When Al and his partner Patrick Offen put in the brewery, it really changed that whole landscape there,” Eagen said. “You can go down on a Saturday or Sunday and that place is just packed. It’s brought a lot of people down there.”
The project’s second phase includes what Eagen dubbed a “live, work, play” project with ground-floor commercial topped by housing. The third phase includes a 63-unit apartment project. Stockman Bank also closed on another piece of attached property fronting Highway 93, Eagen said.
With housing in tight supply and Lolo evolving into a bedroom community of Missoula, Eagen said the project’s timing is key. Zepada has already built several townhomes in the area and the vacancy rates are low or nonexistent.
“On these units that are five years or newer, vacancy is less than 1%,” he said. “We didn’t know about Stockman at the time. That’s exciting for our project.”