The City of Missoula is now in position to purchase The Bridge apartment complex for $2.2 million, as part of an agreement with the Western Montana mental Health Center.

Mayor John Engen explained why the city is moving forward with the purchase of the low-income apartment complex.

“We were in second position to purchase The Bridge Apartments from Western Montana Mental Health Center,” said Mayor Engen. “The center has operated those for years for very low income individuals with disabilities. That facility was for sale. Western Montana had accepted another offer, but that buyer stepped away and that puts us in a position to purchase the facility.”

Engen said the city is normally not in the real estate business.

“We really have only one goal here, and that is to keep the folks who are housed there in stable supportive housing,” he said. “It's not a business that we're in. So our hope is that we're a short term owner and can turn the facility over to an operator or an owner with expertise with the guarantee that they will continue to use the facility for what it was designed for. And again, that's folks with disabilities and very low income.”

Engen said the 21 residents of The Bridge are medically and financially vulnerable.

“We're preventing, I think,  21 folks from being homeless, and with luck that building will continue to serve the communities and that population for many, many years to come,” he said. “It requires approval of the Missoula City Council and we're still going through our due diligence, but we hope the deal works. Again, I think we're a short term owner, but we wanted to make sure that the building was a stable resource moving forward.”

Engen explained the price and terms of the sale.

“The sale price is $2.2 million,” he said. “We would purchase that through the Missoula redevelopment agency which has the intention of recouping at least some, if not all of that expense. When we find the right owner operator, we would do a deed restriction. We think this was a facility that was built with public funds for this purpose and it ought to remain used for that purpose. It doesn't necessarily have to be in public hands, but we would restrict the use in perpetuity.”

Because the project is funded with tax increment, residents’ property taxes will not increase because of the purchase. Proceeds from the eventual sale of the property will likely support the City’s affordable housing trust fund.

photo courtesy of NBC Montana

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