Efforts to redevelop Rocky Mountain Building downtown continuing

The Rocky Mountain Building continues to be a topic of discussion for many in the downtown area.

During Tuesday’s Downtown Safety Alliance meeting, Officer Adam Hunt told the group that the alcove in the back of the building was becoming a larger problem.

He was considering starting the process for a public nuisance but since that can lead to abatement or demolition, he asked the group where plans for the building stood.

NeighborWorks Great Falls, BID working to purchase and redevelop Rocky Mountain Building

Declaring the property a public nuisance requires that official complaints be made so the city can start the process, though the police department can also investigate based on criminal activity happening at or near a property. No matter how the process starts, the city commission must hold public hearings and vote to declare a property a public nuisance.

To date, no official complaints have been made about the building, according to city planning.

The abatement cost to the city would likely be substantial and that cost would be paid with taxpayer dollars. City Planning Director Craig Raymond said the city’s hazard abatement fund currently has about $50,000 and that amount wouldn’t be enough to abate the Rocky Mountain Building.

NeighborWorks Great Falls has a buy-sell agreement with the owners to purchase the property contingent on a number of factors, including the financing package.

The proposal is to develop the bottom level for commercial space and the upper levels for residential units.

Sheila Rice, former director of NWGF is spearheading the effort to develop the financing package and said the group has applied for grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; a loan through the Community Development Block Grant rental rehabilitation program; and has submitted an initial application for tax increment financing funds.

That four of the 11 financing sources the project involves, Rice said.

She said NWGF was working diligently on the project, but they can’t become owners until the have the entire funding package firmed up.

“Something has to be done at the Rocky Mountain Building,” Rice said.

They’ll find out in December if they’ve been approved for a $750,000 grant that is a major component of the financing.

If that grant is approved, among other conditions, the Business Improvement District has committed to purchasing the building and then giving it to NWGF for $200,000.

The TIF application asks the city to bond for $1.5 million toward the purchase, demolition, rehabilitation and construction of the project.

Raymond said the application had been received and his office was reviewing the application.

Raymond had also received a recent complaint about the building when a piece of glass fell from the building into the alley area. Raymond contacted the owners and said he gave them until Aug. 20 to start the work to address that issue.

Mark Cappis, one of the building owners, said that a contractor was scheduled to start work this week to board up windows on the upper levels and they were working on boarding the windows this afternoon.

The property owners had been three years behind on property taxes and an out-of-state firm had picked up their lien.

Cappis told The Electric on Tuesday that the lien had been resolved and that the building remained locally owned.