The Missoula City Council Committee of the Whole met Wednesday afternoon and heard updates on two major projects, the Mountain Water lawsuit and the Hotel Fox proposal.

Ward Four's Adam Hertz said the acquisition of Mountain Water is on hold until District Judge Karen Townsend submits her decision on the case.

"The case is still before Judge Townsend and we're not exactly sure when to expect an opinion on that," Hertz said. "It could be weeks or it could be months. The city's total costs so far are in the $2.9 million dollar range. The bills come in sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly. and they've all been approved by 11 of the 12 council members on a regular basis, with myself voting against them."

Developers of the Hotel Fox in what is now called the Riverfront Triangle Project asked for and received an 18 month extension on their option to purchase the land formerly occupied by the Fox Theater to develop their greatly expanded project.

"The project has really changed in scope over the past four years," he said. "Originally, they were looking at a hotel and small convention center in the range of $37 million, but they brought a proposal before the city council today that was in the range of $150 million, so it has significantly increased in size and scope."

Hertz detailed the expanded proposal.

"They've added multi-family housing components, a very large convention center, two hotels, retail and office space, making it a very large and very complex project," he said. "The developers have committed a lot of time and money to the project, and they want assurances that the city won't sell the land, so they want an exclusive right to negotiate for the land, and the city council granted that 18-month extension."

Hertz said the project would be one of the largest in Montana.

"The project is incredibly large in scope in terms of a redevelopment and infill project in the state of Montana," Hertz said. "It would bring convention space to Missoula nearer to what we see in Spokane or Billings, so it would be a game-changer in terms of creating jobs and economic development. There could be a time when the developers ask the city to put some skin in the game to help shore up the project, and I'll wait to see what that entails and make a decision on whether to support it at that time."

The Riverfront Triangle Project would extend from the corner of Orange and Front Streets and continue through the intersection of Front and West Broadway.


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