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Local businessman closes deal on former Coca-Cola property; plans redevelopment

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Posted at 9:13 AM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 11:13:28-04

MISSOULA — The Coca-Cola property on S. Third Street W. in Missoula has been sold to a long-time Missoula business owner who’s planning both renovations and new development on the property.

Curt Bowler, owner of CJB Properties in Missoula, confirmed the sale on Monday night. He said the existing 40,000 square-foot warehouse that formerly housed Coca-Cola will be divided into commercial condos and will house the Sovereign Hope Church and two other tenants.

“We’re going to be updating the whole facility,” Bowler told the Missoula Current. “We’re going to be putting a new roof on it and a new exterior as we develop our tenants. We’ve got additional designs done already for the rest of the bare ground to do a mixed-use commercial and residential project.”

While that portion of the project remains in design, Bowler said it will include ground floor commercial space with housing above. He expects that portion of the project to front the corner of Third and Curtis streets.

Interest is high given the property’s location, he said.

“We’ll want to see a little more interest before we pull the trigger,” he said. “I’ve had it under contract for almost a year. We were waiting for Coke to pull out. We’ve been doing preliminary work and talking to people, but it’s all been behind doors.”

Sovereign Hope Church began looking for a new location after the city acquired land from Montana Rail Link in the Midtown district several years ago. The church was leasing a building on the property and the city permitted the church to stay until its lease expired.

The city has plans to redevelop that Midtown parcel down the road, and when Coca-Cola broke ground on its new distribution center out by the airport, speculation ran high as to the future of the Third Street property.

Sterling CRE advisors brokered the Third Street deal and made it public on Monday. Bowler said interest in the future commercial component of the development is high. Housing could include a mix of condos and apartments.

“We’ve had quite a bit of medical interest in the commercial space,” he said. “And people still need a place to live. The nice part that we’re trying to do is make some units that can be purchased in the condo style as well as maintain some for rentals.”

Other projects around Missoula have either stalled or been delayed due to the economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic. But Bowler remains bullish on the local economy and sees promise in a speedy recovery.

“Back the late 1970s when the economy tanked, I put $1.5 million into my Catlin Street property,” he said. “I can be an ostrich and choke on the sand or keep my head out and hope to live. We’re being positive about it and see what comes of it.”