124-unit Rockcress Commons set for Commission vote on annexation, zoning on Dec. 5

City Commissioners are scheduled to make a final decision Tuesday on annexation, zoning and the preliminary plat for a five lot subdivision that will become Rockcress Commons, a 124-unit apartment complex for workforce housing.

NeighborWorks Great Falls is developing the project and received approval from the state to use federal housing tax credits for the housing for families and individuals earning below 60 percent of area median income.

The property is located in the county in what’s known as Med Tech Park Minor Subdivision on the southern end of the city at the dead-end of 23rd Street South and along the northern side of 24th Avenue South.

The city planning board voted to recommend approval of the project during an October meeting.

Rockcress Commons gets initial okay in city development process

The project began development last year and was one of five projects selected out of 19 applications from the Montana Board of Housing. It will be the first in Montana to use a unique blend of 9 percent and 4 percent tax credits, said Neil Fortier, NWGF director of real estate development.

The property is currently vacant and an existing shared use path on the north side of 24th Avenue South has been incorporated into the project.

Rockcress Commons NWGF

A rendering of the layout for the proposed 124-unit apartment complex on the southern edge of Great Falls.

The northern portion of the proposed complex contains three apartment buildings with smaller footprints and a community building and outdoor play area/tot lot for the entire tenant base. The southern portion of the project is a separately funded tax credit arrangement and contains four apartment buildings with larger footprints.

The final site plans and building elevations will go to the city Design Review Board for approval.

124-apartment complex makes another step toward construction

Due to the potential for continued growth in the area, including the remaining portion of the parcel that’s not being annexed into the city yet, city staff has worked extensively with NWGF regarding the proposed street network.

Though the area of the county has been developed in a rural fashion, it was originally subdivided for a grid street network, according to city staff and the pattern is continued on the proposed development site.

For north-south transportation connectivity, 23rd Street South would be extended from its terminus adjoining Talus Apartments to connect with 24th Avenue South. A new street, 22nd Street South, would provide a second access for the west side of the project as well as a future access for vacant property to the west.

Pocket neighborhood ok’d by planning board

The two tax credit portions of the project will be divided by the construction of 23rd Avenue South. This street provides project access and could be extended to both the east and west if those parcels develop.

The proposed street and utility plans must be verified for compliance with city standards before the scheduled Dec. 5 annexation hearing. Because site plans are still being developed, staff is recommending that the applicants’s submittal for landscaping be deferred until the DRB stage of the process.


The developer is responsible for the installation of all public utilities in order to serve the proposed complex as well as plan for the potential development needs of the larger adjoining area. Utility improvement plans will be reviewed and approved by the Public Works department. Anticipated utility services include the following:

  • Looped and over-sized water main installation to accommodate domestic water service, fire flows, and adjoining property development needs. Water pressures for existing users north of the project site are lower than desired; and
  • installation of sewer main service on 23rd Street South and 23rd Avenue South that will connect to an existing sewer main to the north and stub potential service for further development to the west.

Due to area conditions, the city has notified NWGF that the stormwater detention standard for the project will be higher than typical.

Boulevard style sidewalks and trees will be installed along all public streets bordering the development site, other that the north side of 24th Street South where just trees will be installed due to the existing shared use path there.

Parking lots will be included in the complex and some on-street parking for visitors is being incorporated into the internal street system, according to the staff report.

Neighborhood Council 5 voted in favor of the project and staff haven’t received any inquiries about the project.