Sunday, October 22, 2017
Breaking News
Home » Rockies » Montana » Western Montana » Bozeman » Density And Redevelopment Key To Mountain West Cities
Community redevelopment, density and pricing are going to be important issues moving forward from the recession in New West urban centers. “I deal with a lot of naysayers,” said Roger Millar, director of Missoula City/County Office of Planning and Grants. “They tell me density and mixed-use development is ugly.” But the fact is cities, like Missoula, have fewer homes with children. So the sprawling development patterns, which are sustainable anyway, are going to be unnecessary and unwanted. Part of the future will be looking at creative ways to redevelop existing neighborhoods, said Ben Lloyd from Comma-Q Architecture, Inc. in Bozeman. This redevelopment will require density, which people in the West will have to become more comfortable with.

Density And Redevelopment Key To Mountain West Cities

Community redevelopment, density and pricing are going to be important issues moving forward from the recession in New West urban centers.

“I deal with a lot of naysayers,” said Roger Millar, director of Missoula City/County Office of Planning and Grants. “They tell me density and mixed-use development is ugly.”

But the fact is cities, like Missoula, have fewer homes with children. So the sprawling development patterns, which are sustainable anyway, are going to be unnecessary and unwanted.

Part of the future will be looking at creative ways to redevelop existing neighborhoods, said Ben Lloyd from Comma-Q Architecture, Inc. in Bozeman.

This redevelopment will require density, which people in the West will have to become more comfortable with.

“Here in the West density is a concept that’s fairly new,” Lloyd said.

But the urban cores like Bozeman or Missoula have a population that is demanding more urban benefits, like mass transit, walkable neighborhoods and less square footage for living.

Design is crucial on redevelopment and high density projects, Lloyd said. He suggested using materials that mimic the existing neighborhoods and buildings. Future construction must have a recognition of what was done in the past.

“You’re making history now, in essence,” Lloyd said.

To make density and redevelopment projects more palatable, communities have to have good projects to point to as examples, Millar said.

“We have to change people’s perception about what infill is,” he said, pointing to the conflicts infill project have caused in Missoula.

Part of that process will be to really publicize good infill projects, said Rachel Winer of Idaho Smart Growth. These examples will help communities understand the importance of density and help the private and public sectors work together to develop strategies to promote density.

Lloyd and Millar both said private and public partnerships will be crucial going forward. The old building and zoning codes don’t work anymore and something new needs to be developed, Millar said.

“What we’ve got is 40 years of how to say ‘no’ to bad ideas instead of how to say ‘yes’ to good things,” he said.

About Greg Lemon

Check Also

One Big Sky Center

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 ...

12 comments

  1. Mr Millar is wrong if he thinks that there are these vast droves of folks (with the cash) wanting to cram into little urban condos and are demanding services. This is an Urban myth and another planning trend that wasn’t working for the last 10 years and will leave the town core scattered with empty condos and broke developers. Missoula has been littered with these Urban Condos built on spec with them sitting empty with sales slow to dead. How long have the Orange St and Broadway 2nd story condos been for sale, 7-8 years with no one interested in the brilliant planners’ last trendy idea ….”urban residential above ground floor retail”. Look at all these urban projects you advocate for :The Old Orange Street Motor Inn Luxury condos, The Dearborn Building , The Millenium, that Triangle Building on Higgins that has been in progress for 7 years with sales only to the guys’ relatives, the Condos on Third Street and Oak that are almost empty, the soon to be Babs Condos fand the boondoggle that was the vision of the Missoula Housing Authority …The Intermountain Development Corp project on Russell St. what is it called…The Garden District…that had no takers for 5 years. “The Garden District” what a clever name.. will now be just another inner city tenement public housing project becuase the assumptions for demand were wrong and have always been wrong. “The Old Sawmill District” that will cost us millions of dollars in tax money , where the developer is acting like it is never gonna happen,becuse he can;t sell anything to anyone with brains. There are 10 times as many of these goofy units vacant then have been sold because there has been NO demand for years and years for that product despite you trying to make a market. Even when these projects are subsidized by tax money they don’t sell because no body wants to live in a crappy faux urban condo and mosey around a 3 block area of downtown eatign at the same restaurants every week. Despite Millar’s crowd trying to push this urban planning masters thesis, nobody wants it. Please knock off the charade and and let us have a house with a decent size lot and a nice road to get there . Stopm wasting our tax money on this crap.

  2. Handler seems to have a good ‘handle’ on not real high demand structures. Re-inventing the wheel is not always good.

  3. More smart growth, new urbanist, brainwashing. Even in Europe more auto trips are made between suburbs than between suburbs and cities. And these trips are increasing rapidly while mass transit trips are decreasing annually. There is plenty of legitimate research to contradict these smart growth zombies. Google up Antiplanner and Demographia for starters.

  4. With real development skidding to a standstill in Missoula the Office if Planning and Grants has been frantically justifying their existence, hence the change in focus to Long Range Planning. This means rather then one meeting a week between these folks for “strategery” they will be holding all kinds of brainstorming charrettes amongst themselves that will result in yet more untested trendy new ways to increase the cost of homeownership in Missoula but will provide lot’s of faux work for the planning industry.
    You folks in Missoula need to look at the Org Chart for OPG. It waon’t fit on one page I bet. It is incredable how this Department has managed to create an empire and has now somehow become defacto essential to the health and safety of our community. Why the heck does the little empire that is the office of “Rural Inititiaves” even exist when their efforts are duplicated by other local, state and federal organizations? What the heck do they need a Landscape Architect for? The answer is they need this office staff because they felt left out and want to brainstorm ways to create more esoteric planning projects for the other OPG planners and agency to comment on and hold more self sustaining charrettes. This is self generating , make work folks. On subdivision reveiews OPG continues to add more individuals and entities to their “agency” comment requests on developer projects which creates a need for more and more responses to those self generated comments which in turn means more OPG staff time and jobs to respond ….which then causes the developer and private planner to change the subdivision plan again,which causes OPG to go get more comments that often differ which often contradict other agencies which causes the developer to hire another private planner and then add another engineer which causes OPG to have more meetings to talk about more conditions which may or may not be in the best interest of the entire community but benefits the latest (CFAC and AG lands) trendy new planning movement. And we wonder why our kids can;t buy a house in Missoula.

  5. There’s also plenty of evidence to demonstrate that restrictive zoning artificially increases the cost of housing.

  6. Too bad the entree was 160 bucks. Only the elite or the expense-accounted could afford it.
    I would have loved to be there to hear Mr. Lang’s plans for our money.

  7. Roger Millar couldn’t be more wrong. He was the planner in McCall Idaho and we are ever so thankful that he left before he totally bankrupted our town. You will notice that his recipe for taller buildings is great for middle class neighborhoods but is not applied in mega-mansion subdivisions and gated communities. His zoning changes have destroyed neighborhoods in McCall, Idaho and the existing families are left holding the bag on bankrupt 50ft buildings with hundreds of unsold condos. The increase in building size and density caused a dramatic rise in property taxes and now long standing families have had to leave their homes–Not to mention that they hated what their neighborhoods had become. Endless construction, increased traffic, increased crime and no benefit to existing families. Many of the most liveable neighborhoods in western cities are welcoming to families and have been established for decades. Roger Millar’s formula destroys these great neighborhoods and forces out the hard working families. Wake up Missoula–you are the next target and I guarantee you won’t like this “re-zoning” any more than any of the past 5 towns Roger Millar has rubbled.

  8. Actually McCall, Idaho was essentially bankrupted by bad decisions made years before Roger Millar ever entered the scene. He inherited a town afflicted with excessive growth related to the economic forces pushing up real estate nationally, magnified by the overly optimistic and entirely unrealistic frenzy induced by Tamarack. Had it not been for his leadership, McCall would be in a much worse position than it is today. We were very fortunate to have him. Planning is a challenging process, and imperfect. Not planning is perhaps easier in the short run, but the consequences can be regrettable.

  9. A silver lining to the economic downturn is that there is no need for any more fringe developments, nor developers of now natural or agricultural landscapes.

    Here in Bozeman, there’s still a substantial amount of construction in the urban core; outside of the urban core, there are enough developed residential and retail lots to last for years. Need should be a major criterion for considering new developments. That would be a good way to handle reduced planning budgets — just stop considering anything but infill until there’s a need. Put some of those miles of asphalt and pipe already in the ground to use and re-train developers and all of the real estate gold rush entourage for useful careers in a sustainable world.

    I don’t think you’ll find many Bozeman residents who wish to see 2006/7 growth rates return; there will be even fewer once the land rush crowd thins to reasonable levels. Now the community is catching up on providing schools and utilities adequate for the near future — good times!

  10. As the longest standing member of McCall Idaho’s P&Z;, I have worked with 5 Planning Directors. Roger, in my opinion, stands at the top of the list. A caring man, with great knowledge, integrity, and experience. Any community should feel fortunate benefit from this and his vision. We all have the right to disagree, but should always keep the focus on improving the planet which we need to protect. This I know is Roger’s goal. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts….Phil Feinberg

  11. Thanks everyone for the comments. I’d like to make just a couple of observations. One, it’s clear that demand for in-town housing is currently greater than demand for fringe housing, just look at the relative pricing trends in different parts of Missoula (and I’m sure it’s the same in Bozeman): housing near the core in the historic neighborhoods is holding up better than housing on the fringe. I agree there are quesions about the demand for condos, but at the same time it doesn’t really make sense to dismiss the idea based on a couple of bad projects (or projects that don’t even exist but that you dislike in concept and therefore dismiss in advance).

    As for New West being a “shill” for anything, I don’t know who we would be shilling for. We think these are important issues and it’s good to discuss them. We do charge money for our conferences, but that hardly means they are only for the “elite.” On the contrary, they are a very good value (they include lots of food and drink among other things) and we have various means (non-profit discounts, scholarships, and others) of assuring that price is not prohibitive for most people. Dave, if you want to attend one of our events but don’t have the money, let me know and we’ll get you a comp ticket.

  12. April 26, 2009

    I echo the comments of Ms. Jessup and add the following. One can certainly support alternate strategies for urban development, but careful planning would seem to be desirable in any instance. And having City staff that are experienced and educated in City planning is of great benefit. As for our new zoning and subdivision codes – this work was begun shortly after the City adopted a Comprehensive Plan in 2000. Most of the rewrite was done by our former City Engineer, City Attorney and a contract planner, with input from the City Planner and the P and Z Commission. A couple of new sections were prepared by the author when a member of the P and Z. Roger Millar assisted with the final editing of the documents as well as preparing a few pages governing specific types of building types; then the new codes were submitted to a Citizen’s committee for further editing before action by the P and Z and the City Council. So the new codes were certainly not “His zoning changes” (Millar’s) as expressed by Mr. Tuck Miller.

    In fact, any changes t actual zoning on the ground have been minimal in the last five years, since Roger Millar was employed, with a few small residential acreages rezoned to a higher density (16 units vs. 8 units per acre) since the new codes were adopted. Also, the City now permits up to 50 foot building, but with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit, in a very limited area zoned Commercial or Industrial. Also, within certain overlay zones along major streets or adjacent to Payette Lake, these buildings are not permitted within 150 feet of the overlay boundary.

    Also, there are no 50 foot bankrupt buildings in McCall; there is one development currently under construction (Alpine Village) which will have a portion of two buildings up to 50 feet high in addition to three other buildings up to 50 feet; this complex will have 106 condo units at full build out, along with a significant amount of office and retail space. It is located in our Central Business District Zone at the site of a defunct retail store, which was closed several years ago. Within the City, there are currently 35 condo units for sale, which includes 7 under construction (all at Alpine Village which has 27 planned for the first phase) and 10 other new units, not “hundreds of unsold condos”. And there are no “destroyed neighborhoods” in McCall by any measure or cause; all new condo development under construction or planned is on renewed commercial property or vacant property.

    Respectfully, Don Bailey McCall City Council