MISSOULA – With developers saying they remain “committed” and “positive” about the project, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency is moving to give developers of the Hotel Fox project up to an additional year to find financing and complete their planning.
But the MRA board, and the developers, also give indications the long-discussed project might be reaching a point where the marketplace might not support the multiple millions of dollars it will take to make the hotel and conference center a reality.
The City of Missoula has been working with Hotel Fox Partners for more than five years to develop a plan to redevelop the old Fox Theater property, also known as the Riverfront Triangle.
Initial plans for a hotel were expanded to include a conference center and parking structure at the suggestion of the city, and for the past year and a half, the partners have been working to refine their plans and line up investors.
But with a deadline approaching later this month, and the group still shopping for investors, MRA staff asked the board to approve another one-year extension.
They say the partners have been reorganizing after the unexpected death of principle Barry Fisher last winter, and have turned to national investor brokers to try and pin down financing in a competitive market.
“There’s a hot real estate market in the West, and certainly all over the country. But in the West particularly right now. In terms of, developments of this size in places like Seattle, Portland, Denver and so on, that are a more known quantity, and a proven quantity, a proven item for equity investors,” said MRA Assistant Director Chris Behan.
However, both the MRA staff, Hotel Fox Partners and their contractors continue to express confidence the project will come together. They agreed to report back to the MRA board this fall, hoping to begin the extensive design phase which would proceed construction.