Business Bites: NWGF looking to purchase, renovate Baatz Building; Big River Ruckus in September; Allegra Printing moving; fireworks complaints at neighborhood councils; Downtown Block Party is Thursday; Snap Fitness expanding; Wellness 406 rebranding
NeighborWorks Great Falls is applying to the Montana Board of Housing for low income housing tax credits for their plan to purchase and renovated the Baatz Building at 400 2nd Ave. S. into permanent supportive housing.
The building has been vacant for several years and is in need of significant renovation as it was not well maintained as an apartment building prior to being boarded up.
NeighborWorks has a pending buy-sell agreement for the building and if successful in getting the tax credits, plans to add 24 permanent supportive housing units on the top two floors with supportive services on the main floor in an estimated $5 million project.
Permanent supportive housing is a concept that combines affordable housing assistance with voluntary support services to address the needs of chronically homeless people. The services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills and connect people with community-based healthcare, treatment and employment services, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
According to the alliance, permanent supportive housing has helped reduce chronic homelessness by 8 percent since 2007 and this type of housing can also increase housing stability and improve health.
“Permanent supportive housing has been shown to lower public costs associated with the use of crisis services, such as shelters, hospitals, jails and prisons,” according to the alliance.
NWGF officials discussed the project with Neighborhood Council 7 during their July 12 meeting and members were supportive of the project.
NWGF is partnering with Homeword out of Missoula for the project and if successful in getting the tax credits, begin construction in the fall of 2021 and open the facility in early 2024.
NWGF is competing for funding this cycle at the Montana Board of Housing with Carter Commons, an affordable senior apartment project across from Carter Park.
Big River Ruckus
The Big River Ruckus is planned for Sept. 10-12 in Great Falls a variety of events, including music, sports, arts and other activities.
The event will benefit the River’s Edge Trail and Great Falls People’s Park and Recreation Foundation.
Music will include: Ana Popovich, Lil Smokies, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, and Jason Boland and the Stragglers; as well as Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs, Supa Man, the Melissa Lynd Band and Lucky Valentines.
General admission to the concerts is free.
The event includes pickleball and disc golf tournaments; mountain biking competitions; cycling on Cochrane Damn; the Big Ruckus Duckus Race on the river and more.
Some neighborhood councils are fielding complaints about fireworks and during the July 12 NC7 meeting, there was discussion of starting a petition to limit fireworks in Great Falls to the organized public displays such as the one in West Bank Park.
The city manager requested that all neighborhood councils be polled for feedback regarding fireworks and several have indicated they had complaints this year.
Changing the city’s fireworks rules would require a City Commission vote and there has been no move by commissioners in recent years to change the rules.
Great Falls Fire Rescue officials have proposed that the city adopt the most recent version of the International Fire Code once the state adopts it that would allow GFFR to better regulate the sale of fireworks in the city through a permitting process for vendors.
Allegra Printing has moved to 1520 River Drive N. and is closed through July 13 to facilitate the move.
Cassiopeia Books will be closed July 15-17 and reopen July 20 for normal business hours.
There will be readings by Genelle Chaconas from Plague City and Leslie D. Soule from My Mentor Death at 6 p.m. July 22 at Cassiopeia Books, 606 Central Ave. Plague City is an award-winning experimental, interactive, dystopian novel that takes place in alternate present in an unnamed country after a bloody political rebellion. My Mentor, Death is a collection of over 40 of Soule’s best poems, meditating on modernity, loss, and more, according to Cassiopeia.
Downtown Summer Block Party
The Block is hosting its second Downtown Summer Block Party on July 15 at 5 p.m. with a brewery tap takeover from Kalispell Brewing Company, music by Melissa Lynn Band, a special appearance of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and a cornhole tournament.
The first Downtown Summer Jam concert is July 21 with Lainey Wilson.
Great Falls International Airport
The Great Falls Airport Authority Board voted at their late June meeting to approve up to $150,000 for the purchase of self-pay stations for the parking lot and modifications to the toll plaza. The airport is is transitioning from contracting out parking services to internally operating the parking lot and hope to have the new self-pay stations by the end of July. The airport is using COVID relief funds for the purchase since the transition will reduce human contact and the spread of the virus.
The board also gave a favorable review to John Faulkner, airport director, but recommended no raise for the new fiscal year, but did authorize a one time $5,000 bonus.
Snap Fitness located at 125 Northwest Bypass, Suite J is expanding into a 9,000 square feet facility adding showers and locker rooms. Construction at the 24-hour gym is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
Massage Therapy By Jessi Saksa is expanding and rebranding into Wellness 406, an alternative and holistic wellness center located at 125 Northwest Bypass Suite H. Construction will be completed by the end of this summer.
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