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One Big Sky Center
Courtesy of the Billings Gazette

Hammes Company Joins One Big Sky Center Venture in Billings

Billings, Montana is moving ahead with discussions on the One Big Sky Center proposal, which (if built) would utterly transform the downtown scene.

According to the Billings Gazette, the City Council will meet tonight at 5 p.m. MST to discuss One Big Sky Center with developers MontDevCO LLC.

This meeting is notable since it will include representatives from Hammes Company, a joint venture firm hitherto unnamed in the proceedings. From the Gazette:

According to the council’s Friday packet, the real estate development and investment company Hammes Company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Wisconsin. The company has 15 regional offices, including Denver and Minneapolis.

With expertise in urban mixed-use and hospitality development, Hammes Company also specializes in sports and entertainment, health care, and government and academic projects.

Company clients are National Football League franchises, including the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, both New York clubs and the Minnesota Vikings; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; the Cleveland Clinic; and the City of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Hammes Company includes three brief case studies touching on the company’s involvement in three developments: a 20-year, $5.6 million private and public Destination Medical Center in Rochester, the Lambeau Field and Titletown Development District in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Allentown Entertainment District.

According to the third case study, Pennsylvania legislators allowed Allentown leaders to focus development in a 128-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone in the city’s downtown and waterfront neighborhoods using tax increment financing.

Nowadays, the PPL Center, a 10,000-seat publicly funded sports arena, is home to the Lehigh Phantoms, a minor league hockey team affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers. In addition to hockey games, the arena hosts music and entertainment events throughout the year.

The development also features retail, dining, health and wellness facilities, a hotel, commercial office space and two historic buildings.

Members of the public will be allowed one minute each during Monday’s first meeting to comment on the proposed project.

Since its introduction in 2016, One Big Sky Center has divided residents. Some view it as an assault on Billings’ current character, while others view it as a positive development—and an essential one as western cities continue grow.

Although the City Council reached a “pre-development memorandum of understanding” with MontDevCO in November, the Council is still discussing plans for the complex.

The Gazette reports the Council will not take final action on any memorandum until July 24, one week ahead of the July 31 council deadline.

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