January 26, 2015

500-bed student housing project moves forward

MISSOULA, Mont. – Developers are moving forward with plans to build a 500-bed housing project on Clay and East Front streets in downtown Missoula, across the street from the Missoula Public Library. Developers think the downtown location will make the complex a hot spot for students.

This is a project years in the making. In 2012 University of Montana President Royce Engstrom, Missoula Mayor John Engen and the then-president of the Associated Students of UM signed an agreement. It’s called the Community Quality of Life Initiative. It focuses on four areas — affordable housing for students, improving existing rental stock, improving neighborhoods and improving transportation and parking options. This new development is just one of many ways UM and the city are working on that agreement.

Farran Realty Partners developer Jim McLeod told us about the logistics of the project and what the complex will offer students.

“Student housing today is kind of older and poorly maintained and the students today, the millenials, expect different types of housing versus what I experienced back in the 1980s,” said McLeod.

That’s exactly what developers and the City of Missoula are working to change with a new student housing project. It’s aimed at UM’s upperclassmen looking to live off campus.

“We believe where students live is a part of their college experience so it’s important that we do something that’s nice. We believe it’s going to help the university from a recruitment standpoint,” said McLeod.

Developers said the high-end apartments will have stainless steel appliances, a fitness center, study lounges and even a movie theater. Developers said the downtown location is tough to beat.

Engen said this project is exactly what Missoula needs — more quality housing for university students.

“We believe that there is not enough quality, safe, affordable student housing available and when that housing is available it will not only serve the needs of students but it will start to take some pressure off of neighborhoods in a number of ways. We don’t have young people finding themselves living in a house because it’s as cheap and affordable as they can make it,” said Engen.

The city said students aren’t the only ones that will benefit from the new pads.

“We think that this is good for neighborhoods, we think it’s good for students, we think it’s good for the University of Montana and the community at large. I think everybody wins under these circumstances,” said Engen.

Developers said the project will give students a new housing standard. There’s no word on what each apartment will rent for, but developers tell us the entire project will cost between $27 million and $30 million.

Construction will likely begin in late summer or early fall and students will be able to move in by May 2017.

By Lauren Bradley  |  NBC Montana


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