By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
A master plan for the North Reserve and Scott Street areas won approval from the City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee on Wednesday, and will likely be included in an amended land use designation map within the city’s growth policy.
Now years in the making, the plan divides the large district into three uses. They include commercial growth along Reserve Street, an industrial center, and residential housing to the east. The area is bounded by Reserve and Scott streets and sits between Interstate 90 and the railroad.
“The plan sets a 20-year horizon for that area,” said Jeremy Keene, project engineer with WGM Group. “There’s nothing in this plan that forces this to happen, but with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s tools, there are ways to incentivize things to happen.”
The planning effort kicked off in early 2016 and has, over the past year, evolved with community input. The effort envisions new street grids, a new off-ramp at Interstate 90, and improved connectivity across the district, including pedestrian and bicycle uses.
It also includes an expanded residential neighborhood off Scott Street. The development pressure has ticked up across the area in recent years, starting with the Scott Street Village, where Edgell Building is currently constructing a new workforce housing project.
“There’s residential demand happening there now,” said Keene. “Balancing those three uses is a challenge, and we tried to come up with a way to make them all work together.”
To do so, the plan includes buffers, separating the district’s industrial use from residential and commercial growth. A transportation plan is also included to separate heavy trucks from other non-industrial uses.
“Heavy trucks is a major issue for the industrial district to be successful in that area,” said Keene. “We identified some truck routes in the plan to minimize the impact on the residential and commercial areas.”
To the west, Consumer Direct is also nearing completion of its new $21 million headquarters building off Howard Raser Drive. It marks the first major project to land in what’s envisioned as an office center surrounded by a mix of commercial uses and potential upper-floor housing extending off Reserve Street.
Keene said the plan presents opportunities to brand each of the district’s three distinct areas. Adoption of the plan coincides with the city’s efforts to adopt new building design standards.
“It’s a comprehensive document,” Keene said. “It sets a long-term vision and presents some of the opportunities. It doesn’t force change to happen. We think that area does have opportunities.”
In 2015, MRA moved to create a guiding document for the area, responding to increased interest among developers. Shortly after, the city created an urban renewal district for the area to generate tax increment financing to help fund public infrastructure needs.
Current and future projects across the district are expected to drive the need for additional infrastructure, which most agree remains one of the area’s shortcomings. As the district grows and attracts new development, the infrastructure needed to support it will follow.
“At this time, we’re not recommending or suggesting any zoning changes in the near future,” said Chris Behan, assistant director of MRA. “We’re presenting a vision at this point of what this area could be in the future. We may be wrong in some places, but we may be right in some places too.”
A public hearing is set for Feb. 13, where the City Council will consider the plan for adoption and amend the land use designation map in the city’s growth policy to include the new plan.
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org