Fort Missoula Housing Plans Spark Concerns From History Fans
A proposal to renovate one of the largest old buildings at Fort Missoula, and add some adjacent homes and retail space, is generating concern ahead of a key hearing this week.
DVG Architecture and North of the Boarder, LLC have submitted a request for the project to the Historic Preservation Commission, to restore the Old Post Hospital on the west side of Fort Missoula.
The hospital, which was originally constructed in 1911, has had a lot of use over the years, including being part of the historic internment camp that operated at Fort Missoula during World War 2. However, the developers say it needs a lot of work to save the building and make it usable in the future.
The developers see an opportunity
In the project application, they write:
The Old Post Hospital grounds at Fort Missoula is a rare parcel of land that could assist in meeting today’s needs and provide services to the Fort, all while honoring the history of this land and architecture. As such, there is an emerging community effort to preserve, steward, and bring vitality to the Fort by creating a regional destination of public open space and eclectic amenities within a historic context."
The developers envision restoring the hospital, removing an old adjacent garage and storage building, and adding a "play space" and public access, which they say would provide a "much-needed respite from the densification of the Missoula Valley."
But the idea of adding a small retail space, and 15-homes, is sparking concerns from fans of history, who object to the scale of the proposal and its impact on the rest of the Fort.
In the application, the developers argue the hospital needs private investment to be saved.
Nonprofit and government offices occupy the buildings but do not fund tax growth needed for city investment of infrastructure. The current proposal aims to carefully introduce new services that support the current visual context, planning, and views at the Fort while taking note of the historic significance and architectural features of the original complex.
The Historic Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday night, April 5th at 6:30 pm at the City Council chambers. That will be in person, but there is also an option to attend virtually.