With plans to redevelop the site being turned down a second time by the City of Missoula, the owners of the Old Post Hospital at Fort Missoula say they are being "forced" to demolish the historic building.

News of the decision came Tuesday morning, following the ruling by the Missoula City Council to uphold an earlier vote by the city's Historic Preservation Commission denying plans to rebuild the hospital and add residential units to the property.

The demolition announcement comes after more than a year of controversy over the plan by developer FAE-Wolf.

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The "Fort Missoula Commons" plan

Developer Max Wolf, who had purchased the building a few years ago with his partners, had come up with a plan to save the old hospital, which was originally constructed to serve Fort Missoula operations but later fell into disuse.

Wolf answers questions during a tour last year; Dennis Bragg photo
Wolf answers questions during a tour last year; Dennis Bragg photo

Wolf argued that the only way to pay for saving the building was to convert it into some commercial and retail space, with offices, and then place adjacent residential units on the site, which is at the southeast corner of the Fort Missoula campus. The project was called Fort Missoula Commons. 

But opponents immediately attacked the mixed-use idea, saying the "condos" would destroy the historic nature of the site and impact natural areas on the south side of Fort Missoula.

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

READ MORE: The Objections to Hospital Redevelopment at Fort Missoula

The Historic Preservation Commission agreed last year, and the city council has reaffirmed that decision.

Demolition is coming

But in a sharply-worded press release Tuesday morning, FAE-Wolf said it would be forced to demolish the hospital, saying "self-professed historic preservationists" had "once again failed Missoula."

In the statement, the developers complained they had bought the hospital with the "express intention" of restoring the old hospital to its "original glory." They noted they had spent "$750,000 managing the property and paying taxes over the past five years."

“It is with a heavy heart that FAE-Wolf has been forced to prepare an application for a demolition permit with the City of Missoula to remove the Old Post Hospital," the state read. "FAE-Wolf will first offer the Old Post Hospital for sale with the condition that it be removed, and if no entity agrees to purchase the hospital, it will proceed with obtaining a demolition permit. The Old Post Hospital will be offered for sale at $10.00, and FAE-Wolf will offer to contribute $100,000 to assist the buyer in an orderly removal."

Wolf had estimated it would cost as much as $ 8 million to rehabilitate the hospital.

The developers say once the hospital is gone, FAE-Wolf will be able to "propose a new development that won't face as many obstacles."

We'll pass along any reaction from the project's opponents.



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