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Downtown Continues to Grow: The 5 East Project

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Do you remember the Black-Olive proposal that originated in 2016 and was later approved in the fall of 2017? How about the One 11 Lofts that were proposed just this year? The developer behind both of these projects, Andy Holloran, has proposed another mid-rise building for the downtown area.

Called 5 East, the proposed six-story, mixed-use building will include 30 condos with space on both the second and third floors for retail and office space. The current proposal for 5 East also includes 29 parking spaces on the ground level, with a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom condos on the top four floors, all ranging from 790 to 1,500 square feet. Located on the corner of Mendenhall and Tracy, the build site currently houses the Straightaway Motors auto shop and several homes, which would be demolished per an agreement with the landowner.

While many downtown residents are still concerned that contemporary buildings will negatively impact Bozeman’s small-town charm and compromise its historic integrity, Holloran states that in order to preserve our open land and agricultural space, we need to further develop our urban core, which includes “building up” instead of “building out”. As it currently is, the proposal includes in the northwest portion of 5 East scaled down to three stories “in order to respect the lower-density housing to the north and provide open space and outdoor amenities for residents”. These amenities include landscaped outdoor terraces, restaurants, and a spa.

5 East is currently set for review by the city planning department. If the plan is approved, construction could begin as early as the beginning of 2019.

 

Current Mid-Rise Development Projects/Proposals

On the Rise: Condos and Townhomes

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

If you drive past any part of Bozeman, you’ll more than likely find some sort of new housing development under construction. What may be surprising for some though is how many of these new developments are actually condos and townhomes, as opposed to traditional single-family detached homes. With both mortgage rates and gas prices having risen recently, some buyers (especially younger, prospective buyers) may feel a bit uncertain about what they’re able to afford. Luckily, condos and townhouses may be more attainable than they think.

Nationally, new townhouses account for 12.3% of all single-family housing starts according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Over the past 5 years, the number of new construction condos and townhomes for sale in Bozeman has fluctuated quite a bit, with the most recent dip in activity having taken place in March of 2017. Since then, the number of condos and townhomes for sale has been on the rise. In Belgrade, there has also been some fluctuation during this same time period, with new condos and townhomes for sale having also been on the rise since March of 2017, though not nearly as rapidly as Bozeman.

 

Condos and Townhouses for Sale in Bozeman & Belgrade, Jan. 2013 - Present

            

This data was pulled from the Big Sky Country MLS for 2018. While we attempt to provide reliable, useful information, we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. Estimates are subject to change without notice.

Similarly, the median sales price for condos and townhomes has also risen in recent years. As of April 2018, the median sales price for both condos and townhomes was $289,900, while in Belgrade this median sales price was $267,400. (Disclaimer: either of these numbers could be skewed toward the higher end of the spectrum by a higher-end listing on the market.) While this may still seem high to many, the median sales price of a single-family home in April 2018 was $396,250, while in Belgrade this median sales price was $310,000. (Again, either of these numbers could be skewed toward the higher end of the spectrum by a higher-end listing on the market.)  Based on these stats, choosing to purchase a condo or townhouse in Bozeman (as opposed to a single-family home) could save you up to $106,350, while choosing to purchase a condo or townhouse in Belgrade (as opposed to a single-family home) could save you up to $42,600.

Number of Condo/Townhouse Sales 2014 - Present

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, states that “future gains in the share as townhouses are a useful bridge from rentership to homeownership for younger prospective buyers in high cost markets…”. This is good news for millennials, as they represented 34% of all homebuyers across other generations in 2017. With condo and townhouse construction on the rise, we can continue to expect an increase in closed sales for these types of homes as we move further along into 2018, and even into 2019.

 

5 Spring Cleaning Projects You Can Complete This Weekend

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

With warm, sunny days finally starting to become the norm as we move closer to the summer months, some of us may have caught the spring cleaning fever. An annual deep cleaning once winter’s chill has thawed will allow your home to “air out”, while the warm weather may help you find the motivation you need to get started.

There are a wide variety of spring cleaning projects you could tackle this year— here are a few of the biggest:

  1. The Windows (including any screens) 
  • For clean windows that are streak-free, mix one part hot water with one part distilled vinegar. Moisten a sponge with the solution, then wipe down windows. Dampen a squeegee and clean from the top down, wiping off the squeegee after each stroke. Be sure to clean windows when there is no direct sunlight hitting them— the heat can cause the glass to dry too quickly, leaving you with streaks.
  • To clean the screens, give them a good rinse with the garden hose. Three parts warm water and one part household ammonia makes an effective cleaning solution. Scrub in small circles from top to bottom, and rinse with the hose again when finished.
  1. The Ceiling Fans
  • Dust and grime can easily build up on those hard-to-reach places in your home, and the ceiling fans are no exception. An easy way to clean the blades without letting the dust fall on the floor is to wrap a pillowcase around the blade and “pull” the dust off. You can then give each blade a more thorough wipe down once the initial layer of dust is gone.
  1. The Carpets
  • Even if you vacuum on a regular basis year-round, a deep clean will reach into the carpet fibers to clean out any food particles or debris that your vacuum alone cannot reach. If you don’t want to hire a professional carpet cleaner, renting a professional-grade cleaner from a home improvement store will also get the job done effectively.
  1. The Refrigerator and Freezer
  • This one’s a no brainer. Throw out anything that’s past its expiration date or that you know you’ll never touch again and consolidate sauces when possible. Take the shelves and icemaker out and give them all a good wipe down. Be sure you wipe any drawers and shelves too. 
  1. The Trashcan
  • That’s right— the trashcan. Any lingering garbage smells you’ve noticed over the winter were likely coming from your trashcan, even after you had already taken out the garbage. Give it a good scrub with hot soapy water in the backyard. This may be the dirtiest job on our list, but it’s an important one that many don’t think of.

While spring cleaning projects aren’t enjoyable for everyone, most will agree that once the hard work is finished and you sit back to admire your clean, sparkling house, the hassle of cleaning is well worth the time and effort.

The Downtown Improvement Plan: Past, Present, & Future

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Over the last 30 years, various recommendations have been developed to improve downtown Bozeman, including everything from construction of more mixed-use buildings, to decreased parking requirements, to more affordable housing units. While some of these ideas have come to fruition in recent years, others are still on the table discussion. The most recent improvement plan states that all recommendations in the plan are both realistic and attainable, but because some require more analysis than others, they are either partially completed or haven’t been started yet.

While only a small portion of the recommendations presented in the original plan aren’t listed below, a list of ALL of the recommendations can be viewed here.

A few notable recommendations from this plan, which was released in 2009, include the following:

  • Addition of a downtown conference center
  • Construction of a “boutique” hotel
  • Addition of plazas and courtyards
  • Conversion of Babcock and Mendenhall to 2-way streets
  • Encouragement of bicyclist traffic downtown
  • Exposure of Bozeman Creek as a centerpiece of the downtown area
  • Extension of Babcock to connect to Bozeman Public Library

Almost a decade later, a 2018 Progress Report has been released. Here is the current status of the above recommendations:

  • Addition of a downtown conference center (Not Completed)

*However, a substantial amount of meeting space has been designated— American Legion, Baxter Hotel, Element Hotel, Emerson Cultural Center, etc.

  • Construction of a “boutique” hotel (Completed)

*Element Hotel—2015; Lark Hotel—under construction; Etha Hotel—construction to begin in 2018

  • Addition of plazas and courtyards for public use (Partially Completed)

*Element Hotel, 5 West, & Lark Hotel have front patios and rear courtyard spaces

  • Conversion of Babcock and Mendenhall to 2-way streets (Not Completed)

*Extensive traffic analysis for not only Babcock and Mendenhall is required, but also for Main, Lamme, Olive, N. 7th, Willson, Rouse and Wallace before this project can be further considered

  • Encouragement of bicyclist traffic downtown (Partially Completed)

*Four on-street bike parking stalls are available seasonally; Dero Fix-It Station was installed for cyclists to inflate tires and perform minor repairs; bike “sharrows” were added to Babcock & Mendenhall

  • Exposure of Bozeman Creek as a centerpiece of the downtown area (Not Completed)

*Financial constraints— the project will cost $350,000

  • Extension of Babcock to connect to Bozeman Public Library (Not Completed)

*Land needed for the extension is privately owned by Empire Building Materials and currently contains a warehouse. If the property is sold or redeveloped, this recommendation will be revisited.

 

​Downtown Boundary Map

More Housing Coming to Both Bozeman and Belgrade

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman Development

The longtime trailer park on North Willson Avenue may soon be transformed into a series of duplexes. Santa Clarita-based company, William Homes LLC, has filed plans to replace the trailers with 16 three-story duplexes, each designed to include 3 bedrooms and an apartment above the garage for future owners to rent out if they choose— all contained within 1,800 square feet.

William Homes, LLC has a portfolio that encompasses many different types of projects, ranging from $159,000 to $1,000,000, which includes everything from townhomes to gated luxury communities.

Although the details about price range and the transition process haven’t yet been announced, construction could start as early as this summer if the city approves the project. 

 

 

Belgrade Development

Plans for a 595-lot subdivision were discussed on Monday with the Belgrade City Council. The future proposed location for this new development sits on 153-acres of the former Prescott Ranch on Belgrade’s west side.

Some board members expressed concerns over non-existent streets that are currently reflected in the plans. The board wants all streets to connect through the subdivision as they are concerned with traffic pileups and proper traffic distribution, both of which are current problems in Belgrade. Another point of concern amongst the board were park sizes— the current plan reflects 5 parks spread out across the subdivision, each averaging 3 acres in size. The board suggested reducing this to either one or two larger parks.

Additionally, developers want to change the zoning from R-2 to R-3 in order to boost density and allow for multi-family housing. All input gathered at Monday’s meeting will be taken into account before developers submit a formal proposal to the city.

How Rising Home Prices & Growing Wages Relate to Desirability in Montana

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Montana housing market prices are high, especially in Bozeman. In 2016, the median sale price for a single-family home in Bozeman was $359,250. Fast forward one year— the median sale price in Bozeman in 2017 was $380,750 (a 5.98% increase from the previous year).      

This data was pulled from the Big Sky Country MLS for 2018. While we attempt to provide reliable, useful information, we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. Estimates are subject to change without notice.

 

In terms of median home values, Bozeman ranked the highest when compared to both other large cities in the state and the United States as a whole.

 

Median Home Values 

Although wages in Montana remain lower than the U.S. average, they are growing faster than other areas across the country. In 2000, the average weekly wage in Montana was 69% of the U.S. level— by 2016, they had grown to 76% of the U.S. level. Quickly growing wages could be a contributing factor to the ever-increasing demand for housing in Montana (and Bozeman in particular), although the demand for quality of life is likely the largest reason for the high demand and rapidly growing population. While the median household income in Bozeman is currently $68,000 (keeping pace with the current median home price), this statistic doesn’t account for the quality of the housing that is available at this price.

Many of the people coming to Bozeman are not reliant on Montana’s economy for income. This group of people includes out-of-state residents who own a second home in Montana, telecommuters, and retirees. In 2010, the share of second homes in Montana was 8%, while the U.S. percentage was only 3.5%. Our state also attracts a large number of people who have the financial means to live wherever they choose—23% of Montana’s personal income comes from non-wage sources such as dividends and retirement. The U.S. level is only 19%. In Gallatin County, more than 40% of adjusted gross income comes from non-wage sources.

Because of the high quality of life in Montana, rising housing costs are partially related to the state’s desirability to those whose income isn’t related to Montana’s economy, which means that wage increases may not be as tied to housing cost increases as we previously thought.

With Bozeman’s population expected to hit 50,000 by the 2020 census, wages growing relatively quickly, and home prices continually on the rise, when will our local market start to become more balanced? With new construction expected to rise as we move closer to that 50,000 mark and potential inventory growth predicted countrywide by the fall, we may be moving closer to both a more balanced market and more affordable housing than we think. 

Bozeman's Future- What Lies Ahead

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Earlier this year, we learned that Bozeman had hired the city’s first affordable housing director in an effort to generate solutions to help reduce the gap between the cost of housing and affordability. In a recent city report, 22% of homeowners were found to be spending more than 35% of their income on their mortgage payment, while 44% of the city’s renters are spending more than 35% of their income on a monthly rent payment.

With current affordability statistics this high, Bozeman’s median single-family home price having reached $398,000 last year, and the current population estimated to be above 47,000 (and growing), it’s more important than ever for this new director to begin mandating affordable housing across all types of homes.

Another New Position

Another top priority for the city, in addition to working on the creation of more affordable housing options, is the construction of a new public safety complex. Whether the city will go alone to build the new center or partner with Gallatin County is to be determined, but either way, the plan will come with a big bill that will need plenty of support before citizens vote on it.

When it comes to large city plans that have an impact on Bozeman’s future (such as affordable housing options or the new safety complex), there’s a bit of a disconnect with city hall’s goals reaching residents. In effort to better communicate the city’s plans to citizens, Bozeman will be hiring its first communications coordinator.

This new role will serve as City Hall’s voice in order to manage which information goes to the public, and how. Largely intended to be an outreach position, the person who fills the job will keep citizens informed via social media and traditional press releases and will likely step outside of the traditional 8-to-5 schedule. Although the search to fill the position is national, the job could be filled as early as April if the city finds the right applicant.

Looking Forward

When Bozeman reaches 50,000 people (and so far, it’s on track to do so very soon), a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) must be established, per the federal law. This organization will help with transportation planning and give citizens more control over what happens to the area. At this time, Bozeman will also receive federal money for future expansion projects. If the city and the county can work harmoniously together, some officials believe that an MPO would be beneficial as Bozeman continues to grow, while others are skeptical because of uncertainties with a limited pot of money and strained relationships between Bozeman and Gallatin County.

As the future unfolds and new city positions are created to help determine the direction in which Bozeman will develop, it will be interesting to see how some of the city’s current issues are solved in terms of both population growth and more affordable housing options.

More Affordable Housing Coming to Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman is growing exponentially— this is no surprise. What might be surprising though is how quickly it is predicted to grow by 2045. Between 2000 and 2016, Gallatin County added roughly 2,200 new residents each year. From 2017 to 2045, Gallatin County is expected to gain nearly 55,000 new residents, with 50% of these residents expected to live in the City of Bozeman.

It’s been a seller’s market in Bozeman for some time now, with both available inventory and housing affordability increasingly becoming more of an issue in our market. The greater Bozeman area has experienced an average 8.3% increase in median sales price over the last 5 years. Currently, the median home price in Bozeman is $398,000— meaning that a household needs to earn at least $68,400 per year, or $32/hour for one earner, in order for this home to be considered affordable at the 30% of income affordability standard. While the median household income in our area is $68,000 (indicating that home prices are in line with incomes), this statistic doesn’t account for the quality of the housing that is available at this price.

However, with the city’s prices on track to surpass wages, and so many people moving to the area over the next few decades, the need for more affordable housing options is critical. The latest affordable housing project is being led by HRDC, and will be constructed on a parcel of land that partially wraps around Baxter Square Park (just under 3 acres), a quarter mile northwest of the North 27th Ave and Baxter Lane intersection. The 24 townhomes will be available to families who earn between $30,000 and $40,000/year, and those who are interested must financially qualify and complete HRDC education and home buying courses.

The Location Dilemma

Years ago, previous developers created a human-made pond adjacent to the future location of the new affordable townhomes. Their project was stalled in 2008 after the recession and was never fully completed. Over the past decade Cattail Creek merged with the pond, creating an expanse of wetlands in the area, resulting in a difficult location to build on.

Originally, HRDC had plans for a few single homes— they’ve since asked city commissioners to approve constructing the new affordable units closer to the pond, in addition to reducing both the size of the lots and the amount of space between homes and the streets. HRDC also proposed the creation of dog stations, individual lot fencing, and enhanced building signs for each of the units. City commissioners approved the project on February 26th, as it falls in line with their preference for constructing more homes on less space as Bozeman continually adds several thousand new residents every year. 

Future Location for Affordable Townhomes (Approximate)

 

Next Steps

If Bozeman continues to grow as quickly as it is predicted to (an additional 27,500 residents by 2045), then projection estimates will demand 12,700 new housing units over the 2017 through 2045 time period. In order to construct all of these units, developers need between 1,800 and 3,100 acres— the current supply in city limits for residential development is 1,300 acres.

While some of these new 12,700 units will be single-family homes, others will be multi-family buildings, townhomes and duplexes. Some will be affordable housing opportunities, and others won’t be.  At any rate, Bozeman IS growing, and quickly. Whether growth means that we expand up, or expand out, expansion of some sort and the addition of more affordable housing options will be necessary over the next few decades as our city prepares for massive growth.

Another Mid-Rise Building Proposed for Downtown Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Last fall, construction on the controversial Black-Olive building was approved by Bozeman City Commissioners after more than a year of discussions, meetings, and revised design plans. Many Bozeman residents (and in particular, those who live downtown) were and still are concerned that the building will ruin Bozeman’s small-town charm, while others believe that the solution for our rapidly growing community is to “build up” instead of “build out”.

Andy Holloran, the same developer behind Black-Olive, has recently proposed plans for a five-story, 50-unit building on the corner of Lamme and Willson, across the street from the old Deaconess Hospital building. The new mid-rise (currently being called the One 11 Lofts) is expected to include 4 studios, 24 one-bedroom, 11 two-bedrooms, and 11 three-bedroom units. Based on its proposed location, the building is zoned in the city’s Central Business District— which means that the ground floor may or may not include commercial space for businesses.

Will Parking Be an Issue?

One of the major reasons why Black-Olive was originally denied was due to a lack of sufficient parking being included in the first round of design plans— only 37 on-site parking spaces for 56 apartments. Neighbors in the vicinity to Black-Olive were concerned about residents filling up already crowded street parking in front of their homes.

The One 11 building plans currently include 53 parking spaces for the 50 units, which is within the city’s requirements of a single space per unit. Most of these parking spaces will be located within an enclosed garage on the building’s first floor, with 6 spaces on the street outside. So far, the amount of parking provided in Holloran’s first draft of plans is significantly larger than that of Black-Olive.

Next Steps

Though construction on Black-Olive will begin in May, the One 11 plan is under review by the city. Planning documents describe the building as featuring corrugated metal, wood paneling, a flat roof and light-colored brickwork, ultimately giving it a “timeless and contextual quality”. Will this mid-rise threaten Bozeman’s small-town charm and obstruct mountain views? Or will it help maintain downtown’s sense of historic value while still offering a solution to limited housing in the area? For now, all we can do is wait to see how the city responds to the proposal.

 

Proposed Location for One 11 Building

By now, most Bozemanites are aware that the city will soon break ground on a second high school on the west side of town. However, Bozeman High School isn’t the only school that will soon be full— all 8 of the existing elementary schools are expected to reach capacity by either 2020 or 2021. With Bozeman’s rapid growth rate of about 4.2%, it comes as no surprise that schools are quickly reaching capacity. Based on how fast the Bozeman school enrollment has been growing every year, the School Board says that the district will need two new elementary schools in the next 10 years.

The school district currently owns several parcels of land—however, none of them are ideal for elementary schools because they are in areas of town that are not growing the fastest, and therefore do not need additional schools. Ideal pieces of land that Bozeman school officials are interested in purchasing include the parcels near the post office on Baxter Lane, and a parcel south of Huffine Lane near Ressler Motors. In order to raise money to purchase these parcels of land, school officials are hoping to sell the land they currently own— the Emerson lawn at Babcock and 4th Avenue. With the deadline to put a land purchase for schools on the May 8th ballot coming up on February 27th, school officials are eager to sell the land their currently own as soon as possible. So far there are three Emerson lawn bidders, though none of the three bids have met the current appraisal amount for the lawn ($2.275 million).

Desired Locations

Both parcels of land located near the post office are long and thin— not ideal for a school. To remedy this, school officials want to buy both parcels and combine them into one, square-shaped, 10-acre parcel. Luckily the owners of both parcels inherited the land, and are more than happy to sell the land, since it will become home to a school, rather than another condo complex. The total cost of both parcels is estimated to be around $1.6 million. Developer Gene Cook owns the 12-acre parcel of land just southwest of Ressler Motors off of Huffine Lane— school officials have stated that although terms of a deal haven’t been negotiated just yet, they are hopeful that the developers will be willing to either work out a land trade or donate several acres to the school district.

Bozeman school officials will ask voters in May to approve either one or both locations for the future elementary schools and are hoping to have the money from the Emerson lawn sale in hand by that time so that school officials will not have to ask voters for money or tax hikes. 

 

Current Elementary Schools (Blue) and Probably Future Locations (Red)

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