Downtown vision brainstorming session set for Oct. 2

If you have a vision for downtown Great Falls, there’s a chance to share it on Oct. 2.

Downtown organizations are hosting a visioning session for specific blocks with the “most untapped potential.”

The session is 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Missouri Room at the Civic Center and includes pizza and non-alcoholic beverages.

Organizers ask that you RSVP here so they have enough pizza.

The brainstorming session is part of a micro visioning project for the downtown that the city received a $20,000 grant to complete.

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Over the summer, the Great Falls Development Authority, on behalf of the Downtown Development Partnership, has released a request for proposals for the project, seeking a firm or team with downtown design and development experience for a Downtown Block Revisioning project in Great Falls through a grant with the Montana Main Street Program.

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L’Heureux Page Warner Architecture and AE2S Communications were selected for the project.

The blocks selected for the visioning process are: the northside of the 100 block of Central Avenue; the southside of the 500 block of Central Avenue and the southside of the 200 block of 1st Avenue South, according to Brett Doney, director of the Great Falls Development Authority.

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In January, Commerce announced that Great Falls was selected for a $20,000 grant through the Main Street Program, which supports the planning of economic development, urban revitalization and historic preservation projects.

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The Great Falls grant is for a downtown micro visioning project, which involved studying individual blocks for development and revitalization projects.

The idea has been promoted by Brett Doney of GFDA for several years at the Downtown Development Partnership.

Doney said at Ignite Great Falls, a GFDA event in January, that the project would look at specific blocks to bring in outside developers and locals to come up with visions of “what could we do with these blocks?”

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Some downtown blocks need new construction, while others need rehabilitation or revitalization, he said.

The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls, working in partnership with the City of Great Falls, secured a grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to fund this effort.

Key partners of the DDP are the city, GFDA, the Business Improvement District, the Downtown Great Falls Association, NeighborWorks Great Falls and the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

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The DDP is an accredited National Main Street Program. GFDA leads the economic revitalization work of the DDP and is taking the lead on this project under a memorandum of understanding with the city, which is the official grant recipient.

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“The goal of this project is to attract developers, businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in developing/occupying underutilized properties in downtown Great Falls. Ultimate uses of properties could include retail, dining, entertainment, office, housing or other,” according to a GFDA release.

According to GFDA, the objectives of this project are:

  • Create conceptual design and development visions for three targeted half blocks or intersections in the core of our downtown;
  • Use a participatory process to solicit ideas and interest from the local community and from beyond the City, including a charrette event;
  • Present the visions at the next Great Falls Downtown Showcase, an event whose purpose is to attract developer, business and entrepreneur interest in investing in our downtown;
  • Package the visions into PDF’s and web site materials for use by GFDA and partners to market development and business opportunities in our downtown.

The full request for proposals is available here.

The microvisioning grant narrative is available here.

The grant contract between the city and the Montana Department of Commerce is available here.