The Pupa Stage For MRA Deputy Director, Chris Behan, Has Passed So That His New Life As Private Sector Butterfly May Begin

by Travis Mateer

First I gotta say I just LOVE that Gomer Kidston has to report on the notable and hilarious transformation of Chris Behan the DD of MRA to Chris Behan the LLC doing the DD’s work at MRA.

If you haven’t yet seen how Kidston rolls against local activists in Engen’s Missoula, or gone to the GoFundMe page to help me raise some dough to help with the costs of making the film, I have to wonder WHAT could you be waiting for?

I doubt Behan has had the time to check out the documentary because going from PUPA to full-on BUTTERFLY takes lots of energy.

Kind of like how I imagine writing crap coverage of this hilarity takes lots of beers, especially when you have to make the work of shoveling public money into the pockets of developers sound like difficult work:

Citing high investment interest and the current pace of development, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board of commissioners on Thursday agreed to bring back a former agency member on a contract basis to help carry the workload.

Chris Behan, who worked for MRA for several decades before retiring last year, will return to the agency as Behan Development Consulting LLC. In doing so, he’ll bring his expertise back to the office as MRA grapples to keep pace with a number of large projects.

I added the emphasis on the GRAPPLING plight of MRA to “keep pace” because it’s such a fun depiction of why Behan Development Consulting LLC is coming to the alleged rescue of a now understaffed MRA.

And why are they understaffed? Because Chris Behan left, of course!

MRA has been short an employee ever since Behan retired in June. It has hired a new deputy director to replace him, though she won’t begin until later this year. And when she does, it will take her time to get familiar with the agency’s current slate of projects.

If these projects are so critical and the time to train a new cog is so lengthy, why did Behan retire in the first place?

What a silly question. Let’s just be happy Behan is still around to shepherd the GREAT REVIVAL of the NEVER DEAD obsession Mayor Engen has to see a developed monstrosity built on the riverfront at Orange Street.

Here’s the Queen of Gentrification, Ellen Buchanan, decreeing this be so to make the magic happen. With PUBLIC MONEY, of course!

MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said the list of projects is high and interest in investing in the city continues to grow. Help is needed now, she added.

“The amount of production in the office continues to increase as Missoula continues to attract investment,” Buchanan said. “We’re working on some of the largest projects in the history of the agency and the experience and knowledge that Chris can bring to these projects is immeasurable.”

Buchanan noted a number of large projects under the agency’s watch, including a sizable housing project on Scott Street, the conversion of Front and Main streets into two-way traffic, and the proposed redevelopment of the Brooks Street corridor.

She said interest in developing the Riverfront Triangle and specifically the old Fox theater site has also returned. That project was placed on hold in 2020 when the pandemic hit, though a new project has been rumored among city officials.

I love to see the word RUMOR associated with the Riverfront Triange project just two weeks after that aforementioned documentary was made public.

How you gonna get ahead of the rumors this time, Johnny E.? Does having a Behan LLC ringer with private sector protections on communication help with that?

Behan worked on the Fox project for more than a decade and is familiar with it.

“He’ll be available to assist with the development of the Fox site if a development proposal materializes, and it looks promising that it will,” Buchanan said. “No one has as much knowledge around the Riverfront Triangle and the Fox site as Chris.”

Yep, Chris has that knowledge all right. But does he have Gomer’s ability to NOT report on some other developments coming from MRA?

Last year, according to Gomer’s own reporting, Brian Sippy, owner of the Radius Gallery, was angling for some sweet TIF money to help him redevelop another property downtown. How much TIF? That was an open question (emphasis mine):

The developers plan to request assistance from the city’s Tax Increment Finance program to cover some aspects of the project, such as deconstruction, which the program is permitted to fund under Montana state law.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency on Thursday agreed to allow the project to proceed ahead of an official request for tax increment. That request is expected next month or in January, and the amount remains undetermined.

“There’s no guarantee that by approving this without prejudice that the project itself will be funded,” said MRA board member Ruth Reineking. However, the board added, the developers’ track record shines favorably on their request.

Well, that favorable shine now has an official number for Brian Sippy and his Apple Lane LLC.

It must be nice to be a connected member of TEAM ENGEN. Stay tuned for more insight into the busy gentrification schemes of these wonderful people.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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