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Developer pulls out of downtown Missoula's Riverfront Triangle project

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Posted at 12:30 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 10:37:51-04

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m. - Aug. 28, 2020

MISSOULA - Citing the sharp downturn in entertainment revenue because of the pandemic, the developers of a proposed hotel and conference center at Missoula's Riverfront Triangle are discontinuing the project.

Developer Nick Checota had signed agreements with the City of Missoula last year to develop "The Drift", a new facility that would have combined hotel and retail space, condos, and a large indoor concert venue at the former Fox Theater property.

He envisioned using the site at the corner of Orange Street to incorporate its proximity to the Clark Fork River with renewed public spaces with river access. Additionally, Checota had agreed to build a new Conference Center for the city.

Late last winter, Checota had said he hoped to get final design underway soon, with construction to start later in 2020. However, the pandemic has devastated his on-going concert business, Logjam presents, forcing the cancelation of all local concerts and events.

Friday, on the Logjam Presents website, a statement was posted saying the company was "discontinuing" the project.

"As Logjam works to weather this storm, we believe our best path forward is to focus our financial resources and energy on preserving our existing venues and sustaining our current businesses, the statement reads. "While we believe the Riverfront Triangle property has amazing potential for the Missoula community, the financial impact of COVID-19 on Logjam has caused us to be unable to continue development of the project."

The news will come to a blow to Missoula, which had hoped for the millions of dollars in redevelopment to anchor the west side of the downtown, helping the city get into the conference business and add additional hotel rooms to the Garden City's inventory. It's also a blow to the efforts to redevelop the old Fox Theater site, which have struggled to become a reality since the 1980s.


(first report: 12:30 p.m. - Aug. 28, 2020)

One of the developers involved in the proposed Riverfront Triangle development in downtown Missoula is pulling out of the project.

Logjam Presents says that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted them to "discontinue the development of the event center, hotel and condominium project (the Drift) that was planned within the Riverfront Triangle district."

Logjam Presents states in a letter that second-quarter revenue fell to 1.3% of what was earned during the same period in 2019. Additionally, $1.2 million in refunds for canceled shows has been paid out over the past six months.

"While we believe the Riverfront Triangle property has amazing potential for the Missoula community, the financial impact of COVID-19 on Logjam has caused us to be unable to continue development of the project," the letter states.

The first phase of the project was set to break ground this fall with the construction of an underground parking garage, atop which the hotel, events center and other structures would sit. But the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy and the project has struggled to move forward.

The Hotel Fox Partnership has been working on plans for a new hotel at the Riverfront Triangle, the pie-shaped piece of property just west of Orange Street along the Clark Fork River for several years.

Developer Nick Checota who owns Logjam Presents expressed his excitement to get involved with the Riverfront Triangle project in October of 2019, saying the huge development is a major "opportunity" for Missoula's future.

- Reporting from Martin Kidson of the Missoula Current and Dennis Bragg included in this report.



Read the full letter posted on the Logjam Presents website below:

A letter from Logjam Presents ownership:

Over the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people, has devastated the live entertainment industry. Like so many venues across the nation, the stages of the Wilma, KettleHouse Amphitheater, Top Hat, Rialto and the newly constructed ELM in Bozeman are silent and will likely remain shuttered until the late Spring or Summer of 2021. Venues such as ours were the first businesses to be shuttered and will likely be the last to reopen.

As the pandemic continues to plague our nation, many in the entertainment industry have watched their revenues collapse. In the case of Logjam, our revenue in the second quarter declined to 1.3 percent of what was earned during the same period in 2019. For promoters of entertainment, the loss of revenue has been compounded by the requirement to refund tickets from cancelled shows. For us, refunds equaled 1.2 million dollars during the past six months. The loss of revenue and the requirement to refund tickets combined with ongoing operational costs of the venues and our company has created a very challenging time for our businesses.

Given the impact of COVID-19 on our business, we have decided to discontinue the development of the event center, hotel and condominium project (the Drift) that was planned within the Riverfront Triangle district. As Logjam works to weather this storm, we believe our best path forward is to focus our financial resources and energy on preserving our existing venues and sustaining our current businesses. While we believe the Riverfront Triangle property has amazing potential for the Missoula community, the financial impact of COVID-19 on Logjam has caused us to be unable to continue development of the project.

We are grateful for the continued support of Missoula and look forward to bringing live entertainment back to our community in a safe and responsible fashion. We hope the best for the City as it works to find the most appropriate use for the Riverfront Triangle property.