by Travis Mateer
During the recording of last week’s Week in Review, I had to hit pause to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing, and that’s a LONG list of downtown businesses signing on to a sternly-worded letter (PDF) telling the Mayor’s Office and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency to hit their own pause button on the “SAM” projects, which includes the lane reduction scheme for Higgins Avenue. From the link:
A coalition of more than 60 downtown business and property owners in Missoula sent a strongly worded letter to Mayor Jordan Hess late Wednesday night expressing concerns over plans to revamp street configurations and disappointment with Hess’ communication with them thus far.
At issue is the city’s Downtown Safety and Mobility (DowntownSAM) project. It consists of three separate endeavors: a plan to convert Front and Main streets to two-way traffic, the plan to redevelop Caras Park and a plan to redesign a portion of Higgins Avenue with different traffic configurations.
I read the entire letter on last week’s podcast episode, which I recommend checking out. For the purposes of this post, here’s the part that references climate change ideology (emphasis mine):
This rift, which has suddenly emerged between downtown businesses and Missoula’s one-party stranglehold on local politics, is kind of amazing, and could help out the one Mayoral candidate who is desperately trying to shed his liberal skin like a snake so he can pretend to be a conservative, and that’s former Sheriff, T.J. McDermott (if he’s actually running).
To give you a sense of the worry coming from Multi-Modal Zealots (MMZs), here’s one of ’em bitching and moaning on Facebook:
Parking psychosis? That’s cute. Has John Wolverton ever tried operating a business downtown? I doubt it. But I’m sure he’s good on a bicycle. Maybe he even has those FAT tires that allows the dozen or so bicyclists in this valley of 100,000 residents to act like it’s feasible to rely on bikes during the snow months in Montana, which can span from October to April.
This seasonal reality in Montana is something the signatories of the letter are finally starting to realize, and point out, to the MMZs driving policy in this town (pun intended). Here’s more from the letter (emphasis mine):
Just because a plan has been a plan for a long time, that doesn’t mean the public, once fully apprised of the plan, is going to be supportive. In this case, the origin of the Higgins lane reduction scheme goes back to 2009, but if supporters think that fact will insulate the plan from the pressures of 2023, they are grossly mistaken.
For example, there WAS a plan to use Tax Increment Financing like a private slush fund to “incentivize” development and address “blight”, but that plan is now facing serious legislative action in Helena, with SB 523 passing a second reading yesterday on a 30-19 vote.
Yesterday I provided some video updates about TIF (theirs and mine) which you can see in the video below.
The article I reference in the video about Andy selling his new Missoula hotels to a Denver corporation should be read closely. Here’s an excerpt to show you what I’m so fucking enraged about with this announcement:
A Denver firm is the new owner of several Marriott properties in downtown Missoula, including the AC Hotel, the Residence Inn and the attached Mercantile retail center, the deal’s real estate broker said Monday.
Evermore Partners of Denver, in partnership with New Castle Hotels & Resorts, acquired the properties near the end of the first quarter of this year, according to CBRE Pacific Northwest.
“The redevelopment of The Mercantile and the development of the adjoining Marriott hotels has been a labor of love for HomeBase Partners, and we are thrilled to transfer the ownership to the next steward of such a remarkable project,” said Andy Holloran of Homebase Partners. “Missoula has been a great partner in supporting the redevelopment of the downtown core, especially the Mercantile and our hotels, and we look forward to our next chapter in Missoula.”
In the announcement, Holloran didn’t disclose his company’s next move in Missoula. But in the past, he said Homebase Partners has other projects in mind and has described Missoula as a good place to invest given its economy and vibrant downtown core.
Stockman Bank executed the sale.
If you aren’t pissed off at this, that’s because you’re probably benefitting from it in some way, so you don’t care that public money is picking winners and letting the losers deal with the increasing cost of living in this idyllic valley without a corporate welfare safety net.
Now that a downtown business revolt appears to be in full swing, let’s conclude this post by taking a look at the signatories of the letter. I hope my outreach to these businesses this week yields some financial support for Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or maybe some general donations, which ANYONE can make at my about page.
Here are businesses who signed the letter. Thanks for reading!