Bozeman developer to renovate vacant Days Inn in downtown Missoula

Thinktank Design Group will strip down the vacant Days Inn Motel later this year and replace it with a new hotel and commercial center. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

A Bozeman company will redevelop a vacant motel building in downtown Missoula into a new hotel and commercial center later this year.

The former Days Inn on Main Street closed in 2017, and the building has remained dormant. Now, Bozeman-based Thinktank Design Group will lease the land from the Elks Lodge, stripping the building and constructing from the ground up.

The company also developed The LARK hotel in Bozeman.

“(The Days Inn) didn’t keep the maintenance up on the building and it was wasting away, so we wanted to take care of it. The lease had expired, too,” said David Elmore, general manager of Hell Gate Elks Lodge.

Erik Nelson, co-owner of Thinktank Design Group, said the redevelopment may start later this year, but the new hotel and commercial center design process is still in the works.

“We’ve been working at trying to find a location where we can bring the same sensibilities that we used on The LARK in Bozeman, but apply it in Missoula and be very conscientious of the local attributes and region that’s there and different,” Nelson said.

The plan is to repurpose some of the building and add unique architectural innovations that will bring it to life, he said. He plans to reconfigure the 50 existing rooms, adding another level and 20 additional rooms.

Local businesses and restaurants will be able to lease about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet of space on the ground floor. Colombia Hospitality has been selected to manage the hotel once it’s complete.

“We like to find existing properties that we can renovate that are in great locations and this is one of them in Missoula, and we can breathe life back into it. Where it was once sort of a dreary building in downtown Bozeman that sat vacant, we revitalized that, and it became a marquee on Main Street. We see that same idea being employed here,” Nelson said.

Nelson said local artists will be able to decorate and paint the hotel’s walls, along with incorporating some Missoula-specific themes in each room.

It’ll be different from many of the hotel franchises already in Missoula.

“We’re not a corporate flag property. We’re a group of reluctant developers who are interested in doing cool concepts, and that’s really what we’re up to. So we’ve tailored and invented this idea of what hospitality could mean in Montana,” Nelson said.

The Elks Lodge acquired the land in 1904, and it was an empty lot until the Days Inn was constructed in the mid-1960s. Thinktank will sign a 50-year lease with the Elks Lodge for the new development.

Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership, said the new hotel will be beneficial to the Main Street and North Pattee Street block.

“I think it’ll be an extraordinary benefit to downtown Missoula because it’s going to activate a block that has been underutilized for probably a couple of decades. It’s going to turn an inside out, old-school motel into a vibrant, active, engaging place where people want to be,” McCarthy said.

The building is located just south of the new Conflux Brewery and just east of the planned $21 million AC Hotel and the newly opened $40 million Marriott Residence Inn.

Reporter Mari Hall can be reached via email at mari.hall@missoulacurrent.com.