by Travis Mateer
Last week I had an urgent, time-sensitive need to speak with an actual person at the Missoulian, a formerly local newspaper that formerly occupied a building on the Hip Strip with a view of the river too valuable for the mere gaze of reporters. That’s why corporate sold the parcel to a financial interest that includes a former Griz linebacker who couldn’t keep his fingers quiet on vacation last fall.
Before getting to the Missoulian’s current camouflaged location, here’s some fun context from the Kaimin piece:
In late November, Wagner — founder of investment firm Wags Capital — joined forces with former UM quarterback Cole Bergquist to purchase the old Missoulian building and its property along the Clark Fork at the foot of the Higgins bridge.
Their plan for the location: A state-of-the-art $100 million-plus commercial and residential complex complete with a 200-car underground parking garage.
It’s not surprising that such a project would draw ire in Missoula, where the price of an average family home has doubled to nearly half a million dollars since 2017, according to the Missoula Organization of Realtors. Wagner’s partner Bergquist is also behind the luxury condos going up just down the street from the proposed Higgins complex. That project ignited controversy too, and locals flooded city council meetings and signed petitions in attempts to halt development to no avail.
What is surprising — and counterproductive — is the online war of words following the announcement of the plan for the Missoulian plot development.
Yep, shit got ugly quick, and thanks to the Kaimin’s documentation of that ugliness, the camouflage and false front at the Missoulian’s new location is starting to make more sense. Here’s more from the Kaimin:
In a message to a critic, Wagner said, “I don’t respect communist pricks telling me I don’t deserve to build amazing projects and employ hundreds of locals … if you can’t afford your shit, make yourself more valuable instead [of] pointing at people like me and whining like a bitchy little victim.”
In another exchange, Wagner told a critic to “learn a fucking thing or two about economics before you open your little pie hole.”
A story from the Missoulian also cites responses from Wagner, such as “get a job you he/she” and “fucking tards, Gawd you losers will always lose.”
Wagner said he was the target of death threats, according to the Missoulian. Some critics told him to “Watch out for some vigilante justice you fuck,” and “We all hope you burn in hell you piece of shit.” Other messages made “sexual references” to his wife and daughters, the Missoulian reported.
Knowing this public anger hasn’t simply disappeared, I discovered the response: hide from them.
The message is pretty clear. Our Office is Closed. Not just today, or for the weekend, but closed indefinitely.
And here is the sign on the building that tries its best to NOT be seen by using a nice black on dark grey color scheme that would make Lego Batman proud.
After peering through the window with no fear of repercussions, the way us privileged white men are known to do, I was about to leave. I was, in fact, driving away, when I decided to park and enter the building where an insurance company has an office.
Instead of talking to an insurance agent about the unsafe step one encounters when approaching the false Missoulian front, I spotted a mustache that simply COULD NOT be attached to an insurance agent. Sure enough, upon speaking to the reporter attached to the mustache, I confirmed the Missoulian now officially has a closed newsroom.
Here’s my report from the OLD Missoulian location, where the blue sky behind my head will soon become ANOTHER condo build, maxing out the height limit until the height limit can be raised. Because money.
Thanks for reading/watching!