MISSOULA - This edition of Current Events with founding editor of the Missoula Current Martin Kidston takes an in-depth look at development efforts in the Scott Street area.
“That's the ever-moving target out there with that project that's unfolding on city property. The city owns 19 acres out there. They've given roughly nine acres to this development that is taking place off Scott Street. That project will include roughly 70 townhomes and condos on an affordable land trust to keep those homes permanently affordable,” Kidston explained. “It also includes 250 market-rate apartments along with a convenience store, a grocery store and a daycare, a big central plaza with a green space. It's a really neat project. The problem is it gets pushed down the road because of economic headwinds -- such as the cost of labor, the shortage of labor, the cost of lumber, and interest rates now going up. The developer said last week that this could get pushed off another year."
Another project that is possibly being eyed for the Scott Street area is a new facility for Mountain Line.
“Yeah, the same area and kind of the same situation. Mountain Line received a letter of intent from the city to buy that property last week. Mountain Line needs that letter to apply for a roughly $50 million federal grant which they would use -- if they receive it -- to build a new transit facility and maintenance shop and garage in the Scott Street area on roughly eight acres. Three of those acres are on city property,” Kidston noted. “Mountain Line is looking to move over there as well, relocate their facilities from where they are currently at on Shakespeare Street. They need this new space urgently, they say. They can't mean their goals of electrification and route expansion unless they have more room to operate.
One concern with the possible Scott Street projects is the additional infrastructure work that will be needed in the area.
“The city admitted this week -- the first time I heard them say it -- that Scott Street will likely reach its breaking point in the near future when all these new apartment units, housing projects, and transit facilities come online. Scott Street is really the only way in and out of that neighborhood,” Kidston said. “The city has received grant funding from the EPA to begin designing a road network in there. As far how they're going to fund that road network still needs to be determined. That will include right-of-way purchases. A new interchange there at Interstate 90. Turner Street will be extended. So, there's a lot of work there. It's kind of pie in the sky thinking right now. All of this stuff is a vision, it's a plan, it's all in the works but none of it has come to fruition at this time."
The federal government would need to be involved in the infrastructure work if an additional interchange on I-90 were to be built.
"Yes, if it’s a federal route. All that road structure south from the Interstate between the railroad tracks and the Interstate needs to be grown as well. There's really nothing in there but garbage trucks and school buses, so there's a lot of work to do, and it's going to require a lot of cash,” Kidston concluded.