Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Missoula Mayor Andrea Davis and representatives from the Missoula Economic Partnership, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, Goodworks Development, and many others, gathered in a vacant lot on Thursday that once was White Pine and Sash for a special groundbreaking ceremony for the Scott Street-Ravara housing project.

I spoke with Mayor Davis at length about the nine-acre site.

The Former White Pine and Sash Superfund Site is being Turned into Housing

“We are celebrating the groundbreaking of the start of our Scott Street Ravara public-private partnership,” began Mayor Davis. “This is the old White Pine and Sash site, which was an area that ended up after industrial and commercial use being a Superfund site, and if it was not for local government stepping in with funding through the federal Brownfield program to clean this up to residential standards, this would still be basically another industrial abandoned property on the north side of Missoula.”

The basis for the affordable nature of the development is built around the Community Land Trust model.

READ MORE: City approves bond, key agreements for Scott Street project

The Community Land Trust Model Makes the Homes Affordable

“What we're doing today is we're breaking ground on the first phase which is putting in the infrastructure,” she said. “There will then be over 90 homes that will be built on a community land trust model. A Community Land Trust is just what it sounds like. The land itself is held in trust with a nonprofit organization and then the home buyer purchases only the home (structure) and so it takes the cost of the land out of the transaction, which makes it more affordable.”

The idea is to build affordable ‘workforce’ housing for the growing number of families coming into Missoula.

“There are two tiers of affordability for this, so a little over 40 homes will be made available for people that are earning moderate wages,” she said. “These are folks that are living and working here in Missoula, as well as another group earning slightly more, and then another 40 or so will be market-priced homes.”

Mayor Davis looked to the future and what else would be built on the former Superfund site.

In Phase 2 Mayor Davis said there would be 233 Market Rate Apartments

“After these homes are built, these 90 Community Land Trust homes, then there'll be a second phase, which will be 233 market-rate apartments. There will also be a community park, that will be a huge, valuable asset for the neighborhood because it'd be a newly built park. There'll also be new bike lanes built in the Scott Street area  and some other areas to make pedestrian and bike traffic easier.”

Davis then explained that the funding for this massive project begins with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency which is funding the infrastructure that will be part of this project. Because this is an urban an urban renewal district, the state legislature enabled the redevelopment agency to utilize tax increment financing to build the bricks and mortar for workforce housing and so the residences will be perpetually affordable through the Community Land Trust model.  Those Community Land Trust homes are assisted by the new workforce housing provision that's been enabled by the (Montana) legislature.

In addition, Mayor Davis said 35,000 square feet will be earmarked for such commercial ventures as a child care center, and a grocery store, in addition to other spaces dedicated to food and beverage-oriented businesses.

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Gallery Credit: Ashley

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