by William Skink
Fridays hold a special place in the news media world, according to this old NPR piece discussing the “Friday news dump”:
Often, the White House sets the release of bad news and unflattering documents to late Friday afternoon. The Pentagon and other agencies also use the practice, a legacy of earlier administrations.
This well-known strategy for downplaying unflattering news appears to have been put into practice last Friday by Missoula’s Sultan of Sound, Nick Checota.
With summer ending and the madness of school starting last week, Friday was the ideal time to announce the official scrapping of the 100 million dollar BIG D(rift) project that would have erected the crown jewel of Missoula gentrification, an event center, along with another hotel, another parking garage and high-end condos.
While Friday is usually a slow day around this little blog, someone put this post about Nick Checota’s family ties on Facebook and traffic exploded. Now more people are aware of daddy Checota and his failed attempt at becoming a Democratic Senator.
The financing for this project must have really cratered, considering Jon Tester tried helping Checota with the ENCORE act and Steve Bullock tried to help with the Live Entertainment relief fund. At that latter link (a government website) a picture of the Wilma is front and center:
So, what happens next. From the Missoulian:
It’s unclear what’s next for the Riverfront Triangle property, which is city-owned and has been designated its own Urban Renewal District. In that district, developers are eligible to utilize Tax Increment Financing, which means the new property taxes from development projects are available to go back into the district for things that benefit the public. City leaders have been working for decades on securing partners for a development that would go above and beyond what would happen if the city was simply to sell the land or lease to the first willing developer.
“And while this great project is off the table, we’ll continue to seek partners of the caliber of the Checotas to ensure that this one-of-a-kind piece of public land is used at its best and that whatever’s next does Missoula proud,” Engen concluded.
The scale of this project was once much smaller and more community focused, but Mayor Engen wanted it to match his BIG APPETITE. Now it’s all blowing up and what we will have instead is that lovely parking lot for the foreseeable future, which is fine by me.
I consider this one of the few silver linings of the Coronavirus pandemic. Missoula has been spared a gentrified monstrosity and Missoula taxpayers just saved 16.5 million dollars in public TIF money that would have purchased a parking garage.
Sorry, Lord Checota, but it looks like there are limits to what a politically connected Sound Sultan can expect when it comes to 100 million dollar development projects.