Business activity and investments in Downtown Missoula were robust in 2021. Despite the impacts of the COVID pandemic, over $38 million in commercial investment was poured into Downtown over the last twelve months. While much has been spent on renovations and tenant improvements, significant investment has been made to the Radio Central Building, the Wren Hotel, the brand-new AC Hotel, the ATG Cognizant Building in the Old Sawmill District, and of course, the Higgins/Beartracks Bridge.
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, there’s no place like Missoula, and its Downtown is certainly no exception. With its unique shops, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, events, and even a river running through its core, Downtown Missoula is a place where everyone can find something to connect with. You’re sure to feel as if you’ve been here a hundred times and you’ll want to return a hundred times more. Welcome to the Heart of Missoula. Welcome to Downtown.
Since the beginning of the year, eighteen new businesses have opened their doors in Downtown Missoula, while nine businesses have closed, a 2-to-1 ratio of openings-to-closings, which has been the story of Downtown business activity for the last ten years. The largest business to open in Downtown this year was the AC Hotel, a six-story, 105-room new build at the corner of Pattee and Main. Other highlighted openings include Sunday School, Toiffer Pet Outfitter, A. Banks Gallery, ZARA Gallery, Clark Fork Yacht Club, Betty Venom, and both the Boxcar Bistro and Cambie Taphouse in the Old Sawmill District.
“Downtown Missoula remains a hot market for a vast array of businesses,” said Charlie Beaton, owner of Big Dipper Ice Cream and Chairman of the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Board of Trustees. “Despite the impact COVID has had on our community and in our country, Downtown Missoula investment continues to follow an upward trajectory, leaving few vacancies in both residential and business properties.”
Residential development in the core includes the brand-new Clay Street Micro Apartments (22 units) at 320 Clay Street and the Good Habit Apartments (11 units), a conversion from a motel at 502 West Broadway. The Clay Street Apartments were completed in August and are fully leased. The Reed (48 units) is under construction at 217 S. 4th Street East, and all the units have been purchased. Major residential development under construction close to Downtown includes the Villagio Apartments (200 units) on Scott Street and the Trinity Apartments (72 units) on Cooley Street.
“The pandemic had a significant impact on businesses this past year,” Beaton said, “eliciting decisions from business owners who pursued retirement or sought a different livelihood from entrepreneurship. Succession planning is difficult for those who own their own business, and maintaining employees and customers is a crucial part of serving the community.”
Despite the economic squeeze, eleven businesses have relocated to or expanded within Downtown Missoula. Highlights include Svoboda Insurance, Bathing Beauties Beads, Makers Market Showroom, Clyde Coffee, HypeHouse, and the M Store.
Additionally, several businesses have changed ownership, including ClassPass, Fact & Fiction, and the M Store. Several other businesses are currently for sale, including Body Basics, the Catalyst, the Shack, Smooch, and the UPS Store.
Downtown Missoula has several projects still in the planning or construction phase. City staff recently approved a deconstruction permit the for the old Western Montana Clinic building and the parking garage at Riverfront Triangle.
Investment and construction continue in Old Sawmill District as the new ATG/Cognizant building rises out of the ground on the north side of Wyoming Street. The $20 million technology building will also house the Sawmill Grille. Following that project, additional housing is planned for the district, including single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments.
It remains to be seen what 2022 investment looks like. There are several large land parcels in Downtown Missoula that have potential for transformation, including the former Missoulian building, the former library, and of course, the Riverfront Triangle.
Downtown properties available for sale or lease are listed online at https://www.missouladowntown.com/properties/. Downtown Missoula remains a great place for a diverse range of businesses.
Downtown Missoula Partnership
218 E Main | Missoula, MT
406.543.4238 | missouladowntown.com