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New Local Businesses Contribute to Bozeman’s Rapid Growth

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman continues to grow, and we aren’t just talking about its population and endless road expansions all over town— new local businesses have been popping up all over town; Evergreen Clothing, Ekam Yoga, Stuffed Crepes and Waffles and Backcountry Burger Bar are just a few of the new businesses that have opened this year. But 2017 isn’t over yet— a new candy shop, new brewery and new diner are either slated to open their doors by year’s end, or have recently done so.

For Those With a Sweet Tooth…

Owner Kimberlee Greenough started Hush Salon in 2011 and has worked as a personal trainer for years, and is now pursuing a lifelong dream of owning her own candy shop. Set to open at the end of October, The Candy Jar will feature more than 500 types of chocolates, gummy candies and other classic candies, as well as a soda fountain and ice cream bar with Wilcoxsin’s and Montana-made syrups. The Candy Jar will be located near Wasabi on West Oak, and an open house on Halloween is currently in the works.

For Those Who Like Locally Crafted Beers…

If candy isn’t your thing, and craft beers are, you’re in luck. Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub opened in late September. Owner Gustav Dose grew up in both Taiwan and Japan, and has studied brewing around the world. His goal with this brewery was to make beers that can’t be made anywhere but Bozeman, taking into account factors such as our climate, altitude and native yeasts. The tap list changes daily, and will still feature familiar favorites in addition to rare finds. Mountains Walking is located on Plum Street on the east end of town.

For Those Who Appreciate Locally Grown Foods…

Opened in September by husband and wife duo Charley Graham and Lauren Reich, Little Star Diner has a menu that changes frequently, as most of the restaurant’s produce is grown by Reich. Depending on the time of year, and with Montana’s short growing season, you may find yourself faced with new menu options based on what’s available at that time. Reich has been growing produce for restaurants since 2009 and Graham was most recently a chef at Blackbird Kitchen. The couple is confident that by combining their culinary experience with the farm-to-table concept, Little Star Diner will soon become a local favorite in town. 

 

New Local Businesses in Bozeman​

Big Sky Town Center: Expansion & Affordable Housing Update

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

In July, Big Sky developers and CrossHarbor Capital Partners (the investment firm involved in Big Sky’s development) announced the opening of a handful of new businesses, as well as the groundbreaking of the first chain hotel in the area. The Wilson Hotel, a Marriott Residence Inn, is being constructed to the east of the newly built Town Center and will feature 129 rooms, a full-service restaurant and a fitness center/pool area.

Fast forward a few months to today— Lone Mountain Land Company (LMLC) has announced construction on another new building in the Town Center—the Plaza Lofts development. It will house five new businesses, including a sushi restaurant, wine bar and a boutique shop, as well as 22 apartments with one-bedroom, two-bedroom and 4-bedroom floorplans. The completion date for this project is set at the start of the 2018 ski season, around the same time as the above-mentioned hotel.

Artist's Rendition of the Plaza Lofts development

Source: Bechtle Architects & Jim Collins

Is Affordable Housing Still an Issue?

Currently, the affordable units that are being planned for future construction are capped at $215,000 for a two-bedroom and $270,000 for a three-bedroom. Future owners will also be required to meet certain criteria, including a cap on income and proof that the unit will be their primary place of residence.

A Speedbump in the Road

In June, the group leading the effort to develop more affordable housing in the area (Big Sky Community Housing Trust) withdrew its application for $1 million in resort tax appropriations. Earlier this year in March, the Gallatin County Commission rejected the group’s plat proposal because certain variances made the project unsafe. Other affordable housing proposals that included raising the resort tax (currently at 3%) were also turned down at the Montana Legislature.

The group will be returning to the County Commission sometime this month for a revised plat hearing, and director Brian Guyer stresses to the Big Sky community that affordable housing is still a top priority, and the application withdrawal is just a speedbump in the road.

Despite overall frustrations and concerns regarding the affordable housing issue, directors and developers alike are excited about the continual growth in Big Sky. With more visitors coming to the area with every passing year, the need to continually build and expand the community to accommodate both newcomers and current residents is at the forefront of city leaders’ minds. 

Design Plans for Bozeman’s 2nd High School in the Works

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

We already know that Bozeman is quickly growing, and it comes as no surprise to anyone in the area that the high school is becoming overcrowded— just last year nearly 2,000 students were enrolled. With a capacity of 2,400 and a predicted enrollment of 2,700 by 2023, it only makes sense that plans for a 2nd high school are currently underway.

Back in February of 2016, several different scenarios for how to solve this problem were presented, a few of which included ideas for staying on Main Street by expanding the current building. However, it has been decided that the best course of action is to construct a 2nd high school, currently planned to be built on a 57-acre plot bordered by Durston & Cottonwood roads, Flanders Mill and West Oak Street.

What Else?

The latest cost estimate for this project is around $83 million, though it is expected to shrink since it is still in the design phase. The entire budget for the school is targeted at $94 million, with more than $10 million going toward equipment, fixtures and furniture. Some of these costs will also be used to renovate the existing high school to keep up with its rapid growth. CTA Architects Engineers, the firm working on developing the new school, will present its final design plan to the Bozeman School Board this December.

The design that was shown last week is modern and sleek, with some brickwork on the three-story classroom building to channel historic Main Street. Extensive black metal cladding, a wedge-shaped roof, all-glass entry and a two-story, stair-like tiered seating structure are all also currently included in the design plans, though these features are subject to change.

Current Design For 2nd High School

Source: CTA Architects Engineers

It’s Green, Too?

The school will also be constructed to environmental standards specifically tailored to schools instead of LEED building standards, which is the most widely used green building system in the world. Though using CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools standard) will run about $10,000 less than LEED, the school chose these standards because it has many of the same features and is more geared toward K-12 schools.

The design report  that was approved by the school board earlier this month contains a CHPS checklist (pages 25 and 118), which demonstrates how the new school will aim to earn 125 environmental points. Many of these points will be earned for its energy efficiency, acoustics, water use regulation and heating system, in addition to sharing the building with other community groups after school.

Pros and Cons

Though we aren’t sure yet when construction will begin, the new school would create more opportunities for students to join sports teams and enroll in special classes like AP and foreign languages.  On the other hand, additional costs for building upkeep, hiring staff and another principal, and funding for double the number of sports teams is generating concerns from both parents and the School Board. Though there are still many details to be worked out over the coming years, one thing is for certain— Bozeman is still rapidly growing, and addressing the soon-to-be overcrowded high school now rather than down the road seems to be the best course of action.


Related Articles: 

Belgrade Expands and Prepares For Future Growth

Bozeman Continues to Grow With New Proposed Airport Expansion

Bozeman Ranks Second as the Fastest Growing Small Town in America

Norway-based Company Develops Smart Home Technology to Monitor Radon Levels

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Did you know that radon causes more deaths from lung cancer every year than both carbon monoxide and house fires combined? The scariest part is that you don’t have to travel far for radon to affect you— it could start in your own home. In fact, recent surveys have shown that 1 in 5 homes in the US have elevated radon levels.

What Is Radon?

Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that occurs naturally in soil. It can be released from rock, soil and water, and when it decays, solid particles begin to form and can cling to water molecules, dust, or even directly to lung tissue.

When the interior of a home is warmer than outside (most nights year-round), the home draws soil gas out of the ground to replace lost air that escaped out of the top, thus increasing overall radon levels. While radon detectors have been around for years, the tests can take days to come back from the lab and since daily radon levels tend to fluctuate, the tests aren’t always the most accurate.

New Technology On the Horizon

Airthings, a Norway-based company, has developed the Airthings Wave, which utilizes digital sensors and smart home technology to measure a home’s radon levels over an extended period of time, rather than just a moment in time. Since the system is all electronic, homeowners are now able to monitor radon levels 24/7. The indicator light on the device will either turn green (healthy levels), yellow (temporary high) or red (unhealthy levels).

Source: https://airthings.com/wave/

Installation is easy— simply use standard AA batteries and a single screw to attach it to a wall or ceiling. Homeowners can also check radon levels and receive notifications through a free app that keeps track of both short and long term data. If radon levels are detected as being dangerous for more than 48 hours, the app will notify the homeowner and recommend next steps.

Experts recommend hiring a contractor to implement a radon reduction system if radon levels are high. A reduction system will reduce levels by up to 99%. The cost for installing this system typically ranges anywhere from $800 to $1,200, though it will usually cost more if the home has a completely finished lower level or a crawl space. Additionally, the Airthings Wave retails on their website for $199 and arrives at your doorstep within one month of ordering.

It can take years for those exposed to radon to begin showing symptoms. While there are many controversies about radon levels in homes and whether they’re actually linked to increased cancer risks, the old saying “better safe than sorry” may carry some weight for those homeowners who want to take precautions and don’t want to risk it. 


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Bozeman Montana Becomes Hot Spot For High Tech Companies

Belgrade Expands and Prepares for Future Growth

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

In 2010, Belgrade had around 7,389 residents; as of last year, that number has grown to 8,254— a 10.5% population increase in just six years, and probably even more now that we’re in the 3rd quarter of 2017. Many of these residents were priced out of the market when looking to purchase a home in Bozeman city limits.

In a report released by Prospera Business Network, the average price for a 2,400 square-foot home in Bozeman on an 8,000 square-foot lot was $367,241. In Belgrade, the average price for a single-family home is $291,382. At the beginning of the summer, the price was about $260,000.

What Preparations Are Being Made For This Growth?

Plans to improve downtown, alleviate the city’s transportation problems and buy more land to build additional schools are already underway.

The Belgrade City Council is creating a special tax district downtown, with its purpose being to produce a new revenue stream to finance this project (among other infrastructure upgrades), rather than asking residents to borrow the money. The council hopes that after improvements are made, new businesses will be attracted to the area. Here are the 5 areas downtown that need the most improvement:

  1. Poorly designed parking lots
  2. Unsafe conditions
  3. Deteriorating buildings
  4. Deteriorating infrastructure
  5. Defective street layouts

As far as starting to fix current traffic problems, the city of Belgrade is working with the Montana Department of Transportation. So far, a website has been developed to gather comments on road conditions from drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. All input will be taken into consideration when deciding where and how to begin solving this problem.

Belgrade High School set an enrollment record this year with 917 students, and the population for the whole school district this year is 3,406— 5% more than last year. The school district is now looking to purchase anywhere from 12 to 200 acres to build two possible new schools, while still having plenty of space for sports practices and games.

Most phases of these plans are expected to take between 6 and 7 years until completion. With Belgrade expanding so quickly, it only makes sense that the city council is already preparing not only for future growth, but the current population and its present needs.


Related Articles:

Bozeman Continues To Grow With New Proposed Airport Expansion

Record-breaking Research At MSU In 2017

New Short-Term Rental Rules Adopted In Bozeman City Limits

New Short-Term Rental Rules Adopted in Bozeman City Limits

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman City Commissioners adopted an ordinance on September 11th that includes new rules and regulations for the estimated 500-550 short-term rentals in Bozeman through platforms including Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway. A short-term rental (STR) is defined as the rental of rooms or dwellings to paying guests anywhere from 1 to 29 days.

What’s the Gist?

This ordinance was adopted with a 3-2 vote by city commissioners—commissioners also passed the new fees that homeowners will pay in order to continue using their property as an STR. There is now an annual $250 registration fee, in addition to a one-time fire inspection fee of $225. In addition, some homeowners may find themselves paying an administrative conditional use permit of $1,508. Commissioner Chris Mehl states that there may be adjustments to these fees in the future, as the city commissioners will have the chance to look at and assess the fees every year.

What Else?

The new fees will be used to balance the program’s cost— they will cover resources needed to process applications, respond to complaints, monitor regulations and inspect rentals. Many older homes that are being used as short-term rentals do not have the same fire-safety features that newer homes have.

While some are concerned that the new mandatory fees will have a negative impact on homeowners who use their properties as short-term rentals in order to generate additional income, Mayor Carson Taylor supports the fee increases because they are important to overall public safety.

Additionally, the new ordinance will forbid STRs that aren’t owner-occupied at any time within Bozeman’s residential districts. In this case, owner-occupied indicates that the owner occupies the dwelling for more than 50% of the calendar year. People who have been operating in these areas prior to January 1st will have the option to be grandfathered in.

When Does This All Start?

These rules will go into effect starting December 1st, and once the ordinance is passed (30 days from September 11th), homeowners will be given a 60-day grace period to meet compliance.

What makes Bozeman both unique and a desirable place to live all comes down to quality—quality of the community, quality of housing and ultimately the quality of the people who live and work here. The intended purpose of this ordinance, while seen as frustrating and expensive to some homeowners, may help contribute to the quality of life that is so valued here in Bozeman, and continue to make living and visiting here so enjoyable.

Bozeman Continues To Grow With New Proposed Airport Expansion

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

It comes as no surprise to most of us that Bozeman is quickly growing, in terms of both population and city development. In the past seven years alone, we’ve grown from 37,000 residents to more than 45,000. Last year was a record year for the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is located in Belgrade and is the busiest airport in the state— there was an 8.4% increase in the number of travelers in and out of Bozeman, and 29% of all air travelers in and out of Montana fly through the Bozeman airport.

To better accommodate those flying in and out of Bozeman, plans to develop more than 50 acres of land south of the airport have been submitted. These plans include a mixed-use complex that will hold hotels, retail stores and restaurants. A Connecticut-based developer, Charter Realty & Development, is currently in negotiations to purchase the property from its current owner Knife River, a construction materials company headquartered in Bismarck, ND. 


With both the number of new listings and pending sales increasing in Belgrade, this development may also be beneficial to Belgrade residents and those looking to relocate to the area.

While the median sales price for Belgrade sat at $279,900 last month, this is still lower than that of Bozeman, with its median sales price hovering around $369K. Dan Zelson, a principal with Charter Realty, states that with growth coming out of Bozeman and into Belgrade, long-term plans may include residential buildings. While this isn’t part of the current proposal, this development could take place as soon as next year, with its first tenants moving in by 2019.

The plan will be presented to the Belgrade City Council on September 18th. Whether or not lower median sales prices are encouraging some Bozeman residents to relocate to Belgrade, the area is indeed expanding and will likely continue to do so with such a busy airport nearby that continues to set new passenger records every year, as well as with the high population growth rates we’ve been experiencing in recent years. 


Related Articles: 

Black-Olive Proposal Denied by Bozeman City Commissioners

Bozeman's 4th Mid-Rise Building Proposed to Replace and Old Grain Mill

Bozeman Ranks Second as the Fastest Growing Small Town in America

Record-breaking Research at MSU in 2017

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Montana State University, the largest in the state with a whopping 16,440 students enrolled last fall, has set a record of $130.8 million in contract expenditures and research for the fiscal year that ended in June 2017. This impressive number is up $12 million from last year.

Researchers from the university pursued grant funding in the fiscal year 2017 more heavily than they have in the past. Here are the stats:

Fiscal Year 2017

Grant applications: 1,729 (>100 from fiscal year 2016)

New grant awards: 562

Total worth: $75.5 million (>8% more than fiscal year 2016)

What Does It Take to Get a Grant?

The commitment to academic research at MSU is apparent by the number of submitted proposals, especially because the entire process is anything but easy. It all begins with an idea, and from there a cycle of writing, budget development and research question generation follows.

​​​

Both students and scientists that received these grants study in fields that include biochemistry, health, physics and the environment. The College of Letters and Science was credited $22.2 million, the College of Agriculture was credited $19.4 million and the College of Engineering received $17 million. The remainder was divided amongst a wide variety of projects, some of which included research on sustainable biofuels, health disparities in tribal communities and immunology and infectious diseases.

Although Fall 2017 enrollment numbers will be unavailable for several more weeks, it’s safe to say that the university is expecting to break last year’s record. With MSU continually breaking its record for enrolled students, it isn’t outlandish to predict that with more students comes more opportunity for larger grant award numbers in years to come. 


Related Articles: 

MSU Students Design "Small Shelters" For The Homeless

 

6 Things To Do Before You Take That Vacation

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Summer is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean that vacation time is over. Did you know that August is the second most popular month of the year to travel? With 36% of respondents vacationing this month, it’s a good idea to prepare your home to be unoccupied for days or weeks at a time.

There are many precautions you can take to ensure your home stays safe while you’re away. Here are a few tips to help reduce the risks:

  • Only 17% of homes in America have a home security system, and homes without one are three times as likely to be burglarized. While these systems are not cheap, they are a wise investment and can save you a headache and a lot of money later down the road.​​
  • Putting a hold on your mail and newspaper for the duration of your time away will make it look as though you are home, or at the very least, that someone is stopping by your house regularly to collect the mail.​​
  • This may seem like an obvious one, but is easy to overlook while packing and running last minute errands before you leave town. Lock all windows and doors and once you’ve locked them, double-check just to be sure.​​
  • We’ve all been told at one point or another to put our lights on a timer while on vacation, but smart bulbs like these can be programmed through your smartphone and controlled from wherever you are. It may also be a good idea to switch up the times that you activate the lights every day to further create the illusion that someone is home.​​
  • It may seem silly to water the plants, clean up the yard and mow the grass before leaving on vacation, but think about it– a home with a tidy yard implies that the home is occupied, and is more likely to deter a burglar.
  • You never know when a power surge will happen, so why take the risk while you’re away? Disconnect any electronics that don’t need to stay plugged in, such as the TV, your laptop, a hair dryer, etc.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about security measures to take the next time you leave for vacation and leave your empty house behind– after all, a vacation is intended to be relaxing, so don’t stress out!


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The Path of Totality— What You Need to Know About the Total Solar Eclipse

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Most of us have probably heard about the total solar eclipse that will literally sweep the nation on August 21st, but in case you haven’t, here are a few key facts about the upcoming celestial event:

  • The path of totality cuts across the United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.
  • The distance from Lincoln Beach to Charleston is around 3,000 miles–the eclipse will cover this distance in about an hour and a half.
  • The path of totality is approximately 70 miles wide.
  • An estimated 12.25 million people live inside the path of totality, and anywhere between 1.85 million and 7.4 million people will travel to the path of totality on August 21st.
  • The longest amount of time that the moon will completely block out the Sun is a short 2 minutes and 40 seconds, expected near Carbondale, Illinois.
  • The eclipse will be visible in parts of Europe, Africa, South America and the Arctic, but only as a partial solar eclipse.​​​

https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/statistics/​

Between two and five solar eclipses occur every year, but total solar eclipses only occur once every 18 months or so. What makes this year’s total eclipse so unique is that this is the first time the path of totality has spanned the entire United States from coast to coast since 1918.

The eclipse begins at around 10:17AM MST and by 11:35AM MST, we will be able to view a partial eclipse with a magnitude of about 0.96. This means that we will be able to see 96% of the Sun’s surface blocked out by the moon at that time—the maximum amount that will be available for those of us in Bozeman to view before the eclipse continues along its path to the east coast.

If you want to view the eclipse during complete totality your best bet is to travel 3 hours south to Rexburg, Idaho where you can witness a total eclipse for about 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

Regardless of where you are viewing the eclipse from, it is strongly advised to never look directly at the sun without safety-certified glasses. More than 6,800 public libraries around the United States are distributing free eclipse glasses. Here’s a map where you can view both the path of totality and a list of participating libraries: http://spacescience.org/software/libraries/map.php

You won’t want to miss this rare experience because the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the United States won’t be until April 8, 2024, with much less magnitude available to us Bozemanites. So get outside on August 21st for a few minutes to stretch your legs, enjoy the sunshine and watch the solar eclipse!

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