Developers requesting tax abatements for three projects

Two development groups are seeking tax abatements from the city for three projects.

The City Commission will consider all three during their Aug. 4 meeting and will conduct public hearings on each request.

STSA Partners, LLC is remodeling 420 Central Ave. into an entertainment venue that will have 8,000 square feet of event space and a multi-purpose theater.

The space was split into two commercial spaces and Central Avenue Meats is now in the space that was previously occupied by Fairway Comfort Systems.

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The space that will house the event space has been vacant for longer than three years.

The group working on the venue includes owners of LPW Architecture, Enbar/The Block and the Mighty Mo.

City staff is recommending approval of the 5-year abatement in which the developers would get a tax break on the new property taxes generated from the expansion and based on the current tax rate, estimated costs of remodeling and the post-construction appraisal value, the estimated loss of city tax revenue over five years would be $28,000.

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“The partners plan to invest approximately $1 million into this project. The value of the
building will increase substantially which will have a long-term positive effect on the tax base,” according to the city staff report. “This event space will encourage ‘spin-off’ development throughout the central business core and periphery area. The substantial investment in the property should send a positive message to nearby property and business owners and trigger further development along Central Avenue and the surrounding areas. In addition, due to the nature of the business, large shows and
events will positively affect downtown sales in other businesses, which will also positively affect employment opportunities in the city.”

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Their current plans for the space include a large stage, green rooms, restrooms, a lounge and bar area and a mezzanine area with the capacity for about 700 people, according to the staff report. that will be a unique downtown venue modeled after the Wilma in Missoula and Pub Station in Billings.

The partners for the event space are also the founding members of Downtown Summer Jam in Great Falls.

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According to their project narrative, the project won’t be developed without the tax abatement.

Big Sky Select Properties, LLC is requesting tax abatements for two of their projects, the Northern Lofts downtown and the Milwaukee Station mixed use project.

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The Northern Lofts project is renovating the two previously unused floors above the Mighty Mo Brew Pub into 18 market rate apartments.

The project is already underway but the applicants have indicated that interior demolition and remodeling of spaces in an old building over an existing business have caused some unforeseen expenses and the “feasibility of the project is in question without the benefit of a tax abatement,” according to the application.

The developers are requesting a 5-year abatement that would reduce city tax revenue by $50,450 but staff is recommending to approve the request since the project will have a positive long-term impact on the downtown and the city’s tax base.

Big Sky Select is also requesting a 5-year abatement for the $16 million Milwaukee Station project that will add an 112-unit market rate apartment complex with a two-story, 10,000 square foot area of commercial space that will be lightly attached to the existing Milwaukee Station Depot building located at 101 River Drive N.

The estimated loss of tax revenue to the city over five years is $459,690, but staff is recommending approval of the abatement since the project “significantly contributes to the goals and policies of the Growth Policy by developing and enhancing an undeveloped, vacant property within the City and supporting residential and
commercial development that will enhance the Missouri River,” according to the staff report.