Rocky Mountain Building will be the new home of the Community Health Care Center
The Rocky Mountain Building is going to be the new home of the Community Health Care Center.
The center has a buy-sell agreement for the building that had been listed at $475,000 but the center’s purchase price hasn’t been disclosed.
Trista Besich, CHCC executive director, said they plan to finalize the sale by the end of the year and have already begun soliciting for architectural and engineering services. Proposals are due by 2 p.m. Sept. 21.
CHCC is in the process of separating from Cascade County, where it has operated under the County Commission. That split will be final by Dec. 31 and the CHCC will become a free-standing agency once more.
Earlier this year, CHCC officials notified the county of their intention to separate and the commission has allowed CHCC to build up a reserve of their operating funds, which are not generated by taxes. In July, the commission approved disbursement of $408,000 to CHCC and in late August, approved disbursement of another $200,000.
Besich said CHCC used reserve funds to purchase the building.
“We’re really excited,” Besich said. “We love that building…and it keeps us right there in downtown, which is something we’d always wanted to do.”
The large building, which has been vacant since a 2009 fire, allows for easy access for CHCC clients and also gives the agency room to grow as they continue to expand services for the community.
“It’s a nice, permanent home for us,” Besich said.
But, some space will likely be left over and Besich said they expect to work with community partners to rent out some space in the building.
“We’re excited to be part of breathing life into that building downtown,” said Erin Merchant, with CHCC. “That’s a really cool thing. That building is going to have life again.”
The CHCC is currently co-located with the Cascade City-County Health Department at 115 4th St. S. and Besich said they hope to maintain a small footprint there for easy access.
The CHCC is federally funded and open to those at 200 percent of the poverty level or below. Besich said there are 32,000 people in Cascade County in that category.
The federal poverty level for 2018, according to healthcare.gov, is $12,140 for an individual and 200 percent of the poverty level is $24,280.
The center is set up as a non-profit with a governing board.
CCHD opened the center in 1994 to support increased access to care for the uninsured, underinsured and underserved patients. In 2012, the CHCC started operating as a separate department within the county with a long-term goal of becoming an independent agency, according to CHCC.
CHCC recently opened its new dental clinic in the Machinery Row building and has been expanding operations significantly over the last year by adding several new providers. The center has also been shifting office space around to make more room for medical services.
CHCC offers medical, dental and behavioral health services. A partnership with Gateway is in the works to provide addiction services.
Besich said they’re hoping to have an architect selected by early October and a construction contract out early next year. They’re hoping to start construction next year, but expect it will likely be 2020 before they can start moving into the building.
Besich said they won’t likely have a good estimate on the overall project cost until they select an architect and start the design phase.
CHCC will use about 50,000 square feet for their permanent home, leaving 10,000 to 30,000 square feet of space potentially available for lease to community partners.
The newly created school-based health centers will remain operational and Besich said they’ll likely maintain then new dental clinic in Machinery Row.
“We’re outgrown our space. We’re absolutely at capacity,” Besich said. “This is an amazing opportunity for us to expand out services and provide more care in the community.”
As part of the split from the county, CHCC will also be rebranding with a new name and logo, though it will maintain Community Health Care Center Inc. as its legal name.
Mark Cappis, an owner of the Rocky Mountain Building, said he notified NeighborWorks Great Falls about CHCC’s plan to purchase the building and that NWGF was happy the building would have new life.
“It’s a win-win-win,” he said. “Everybody’s happy.”
NWGF had planned to purchase the building for residential and commercial units, but that project was contingent on grant funds and a number of other financing options.
According to the request for qualifications for architectural services, the CHCC project will use numerous grant sources and historical tax credits.
The project is a remodel of existing space with no plan to add new space, beyond structural remediation of the fire damaged area.
According to the RFQ, the architect must have experience with historical tax credits, new market tax credits, green building tax deductions, solar tax credits, Great Falls Business Improvement District grants, City of Great Falls tax credits, and other grants that the CHCC may procure.