Missoula riverfront project gets green light for designers


MISSOULA, Mont. - Monday night the city of Missoula signed off on the agreements that allow the Fox Site project to move forward. The Fox Site sits in the Riverfront Triangle at Orange Street and Front Street.

Chris Behan, with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, said after the meeting everyone took a minute to realize they made it to this point then knew it was time to get to work.

"We know we're getting to the finish line; now we have to figure out how," said Behan.

Behan said now the developer, the Fox Hotel, will give the green light to the designers, CTA Architects, to design the hotel, conference center, parking structure and condominiums. CTA Architects has a limit of 18 months to get the design done. They brought on a consulting company, Portfolio for Hospitality, that specializes on conference center interiors.

After the 18 months of design CTA architects has another six months to get their permits and financing finalized.

Twenty-four months is the absolute maximum, but Behan said they know time is money and materials increase in prices, so they will try to finish well before the deadline. In fact, they could get one design finalized and begin construction on one piece while still designing another piece.

The designers also have to work within the budget. The city's cap is what the tax increment financing and parking revenue can afford. Behan estimates that's about $16 million. It's financed with TIF money over 30 years.

Until it's fully designed the city has no idea what the increase in taxes would be for the Fox Hotel.

The total project is estimated to cost between $85 million and $90 million including the city's roughly $16 million and what the Fox Hotel is putting in.

Those costs could all change as they begin design.

"We have a set of documents now that are flexible enough that allow us to move forward but rigid enough to get it done," said Behan.

Thirty months is the absolute deadline to begin construction but they may start earlier.