-Martin Kidston reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – Four restaurants, four retailers and one bar are set to open in June and July on the ground floor of the new Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Missoula, with work now underway in several of the storefronts.
The influx of new businesses range from ethnic cuisine to clothing and exercise.
“We’re really excited about the mix,” said Andy Holloran, the project’s developer with HomeBase Montana. “We have nine very unique, well-qualified tenants. It’s a good mix for the project.”
A number of tenants are set to open in June, including Olive and Iron, which sells women’s clothing, and Basil, a breakfast and lunch cafe poised to occupy the historic pharmacy.
Zoo Thai will also open in June, along with 1889, a seafood and steak restaurant slated for the corner of Higgins and Front. The establishment promises a “casual, yet refined” atmosphere with “references in the design and decor to the history of Missoula.”
Missoula was incorporated in 1889 and Montana became a state.
“They’re the owners of The Keep,” Holloran said of 1889. “It’s a great local couple and should be terrific.”
Several other establishments will begin construction in the next few weeks with an opening set for July, including the Create Art Bar and Skin Chic, a female-owned medical spa offering an array of treatments.
Holloran said Sobba Cyle and the Montana Scene – a statewide retailer – will begin construction soon with openings planned for July. The Mexican restaurant Camino rounds out the offerings and will open this summer as well.
The retail spaces filled up quickly after they were made available with construction of the Mercantile hotel.
“It goes back to what was attractive to us as well,” Holloran said. “It has such an iconic history in terms of commerce and trade, and we think Higgins and Front is the bull’s-eye center of our downtown.”
The hotel opened in March and has been fully occupied on recent weekends, driven by local spring events and the demand for downtown lodging within walking distance to other amenities.
“We’ve been very pleased with the operation of the hotel itself,” Holloran said. “It’s exceeding our expectations, and people have been kind and welcoming and I think excited that we’re now open.”
Holloran plans to break ground on an accompanying project on the adjacent lot this spring. The planned AC Hotel will include 105 guest rooms, a rooftop bar, a speakeasy and what’s been described as a coworking space.
That project won preliminary approval for tax increment financing from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board of commissioners for deconstruction of an old garage and public improvements in the right of way.
The City Council is expected to consider the TIF request in May. Together, the two HomeBase projects represent an investment in excess of $40 million in downtown Missoula.
“It’s one of the most sought-after brands in the industry,” Holloran said. “We were fortunate enough to get one for downtown Missoula. It’s a tremendous complement to the (Mercantile hotel) next door and another attraction and reason for people to visit and stay in our downtown.”