Missoula Development Officials Optimistic About New Housing Strategy, Report Positive First Results

The Environmental Protection Agency  had recently granted Missoula $1.2 million to clean up several unused properties in the city that they had acquired in recent years. This grant will enable Missoula to enact a widespread redevelopment campaign, which will in turn enable the city to employ its new strategy  to make housing more affordable. Building new homes on those parcels of land will be the central agenda of the redevelopment campaign, says Eran Pehan, director of Missoula City Housing and Development.

Gearing Up For Redevelopment

According to Eran Pehan, the city has enlisted the help of several local firms to help with clearing the plot of land. This is thanks to the recently granted EPA funding, which will also assist with redevelopment efforts. The city of Missoula has had a solid homebuilding track record. Well-known housing projects, such as the Lee Gordon Townhomes and the Montana Street village, were made possible thanks to the city’s efforts in recent years.

Mayor John Engen expressed his optimism about the continued success of the housing effort, saying that it is a testament to Missoula bouncing back despite the uncertain times. He went on to say that the city has “always done well” with such projects. He praised city workers’ proficiency in dealing with environmental damage and adding new value to damaged properties through thorough redevelopment.

The Key Ingredient To Missoula’s Housing Strategy

Apart from the EPA, the Montana Department of Environmental quality has also partnered with Missoula to ensure the success of the redevelopment campaign. With the help of both, the city government is positive that it can hire all the land development and  land clearing montana firms it needs to get the job done in a timely fashion. Aside from this, it’s also  investing heavily in land banking as the main tactic in their housing strategy. This action is being made with the intent to remove the cost of land, and ultimately be able to sell housing at a much lower price.

The rising land prices in Missoula were the main thing stopping the workforce from getting affordable housing and thus prompted the land banking response. According to Pehan, the land banking strategy has started to yield benefits. The city’s other parcels of land, including an old library block in downtown Missoula, are slated to undergo redevelopment as well. In accordance with their land banking strategy, a large portion of these parcels will likely be set aside for housing.

An Increasing Dedication To Affordable Housing 

Even the city’s land acquisitions that were made for specific purposes will probably be used for housing in the future, says Pehan. Notable examples include the Sleepy Inn Motel, purchased for $1.1 million, which was intended to house vulnerable populations in the midst of the pandemic.

Some plots of land were donated to the city expressly to be used as housing, however. These include the recent 4-acre donation by Missoula County, which was developed for housing through the Trinity project.

Thanks to the efforts of city officials and local firms alike, it would seem that Missoula’s housing crisis has had its day. Now, with the EPA grant, the new housing strategy, and support from other groups, the dream of affordable housing for all may very well become a reality, very soon.