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The Annie and Oak Street Issues: Bozeman’s Second High School Faces New Challenges

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

While the overall design for Bozeman’s 2nd high school has been approved, the actual design drawings will be completed sometime this month, at which time the School Board will take its final vote on the design. Previously, we had learned that the design was modern and sleek, with elements of brickwork, black metal cladding and an all-glass entryway incorporated into the plans. Only small modifications to this design have been made by Building Committee members, which include using traditional red brickwork rather than the originally proposed grey, and using white instead of purple for the triangle outside the main entry.

The Annie Street Issue

City staff members are in favor of the school district building Annie Street east-west, which would cut through the middle of the property where the high school will be constructed. This expense is estimated at $800,000, and would require students to cross a city street in order to reach the playing fields. While the school conducted a traffic study and found that Annie isn’t a heavily used street, the city feels as though building this street is needed for the transportation system.

The Oak Street Issue

While the school had discussed using a portion of the budget to build a soccer field and parking lot on the north side of Oak (across the street from the new school), designers have other plans— building a pedestrian tunnel under Oak Street AND constructing an overpass over the tunnel.

The land north of Oak is city-owned, which means that the plans for a field and parking lot would be a collaborative project with the city’s plans to develop a sports complex. Creating both a tunnel and overpass, while great for ensuring pedestrian safety, present the challenge of meeting the budget.

The goal budget is between $76 million and $78 million, the current design is around $87 million, and once site work, streets and the possible tunnel are factored in, the entire project will cost $93 million.

Future Location of Second High School/Sports Complex

Only Time Will Tell

The Annie Street issue will be discussed as soon as next week, although we aren’t sure when we’ll find out whether the tunnel and overpass project will move forward. Revisiting the budget and cutting costs will likely need to happen before any major decisions are made. Sometime after the new year, however, we can expect to find out more about the new school’s colors, logo and mascot.


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Long-Debated Black-Olive Project Gets Approved by City Commissioners

Long-Debated Black-Olive Project Gets Approved By City Commissioners

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

In September of 2016, the Black-Olive project was first presented to Bozeman City Commissioners as a 5-story building that would feature 56 apartments, as well as commercial business space on the ground floor and 37 on-site parking spaces. Many neighboring residents spoke out at both public meetings and on Facebook’s “Save Bozeman” page to express their concerns that the contemporary building would ruin Bozeman’s small-town charm and negatively impact street parking.

On April 11th of this year, this proposal was denied with a 4-1 vote, although it was stated that developer Andy Holloran intended to modify the design and resubmit his proposal for later review. Fast forward to last week— the Black-Olive development was APPROVED after more than a year of discussions, meetings and revised design plans, ironically with a 4-1 vote. The project will include demolition of the two-story building currently located at 202 S. Black Ave.

What Else?

The new design has been modified to feature 66 bedrooms within 47 apartments, while providing 40 parking spaces for those residents.  Although some commissioners and citizens were still against the project, stating that the building was too big and that parking constraints were already an issue, others disagreed. Commissioners I-Ho Pomeroy and Jeff Krauss support the idea of creating more housing opportunities downtown, which would include growth upward instead of outward.

What Now?

Although the project has been approved, Holloran will be required to make minor changes to the building’s top floor to scale back its elevation. After finishing the design to accommodate this amendment and obtaining both a building and demolition permit, Holloran expects to break ground sometime this spring. 

Future Location of Black-Olive Project

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.


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Bozeman’s 4th Mid-Rise Building Proposed to Replace an Old Grain Mill

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman’s 4th mid-rise building is currently being scoped out for a site on the east side of downtown. This BG Mill building will have a little more character than the rest though, turning an old grain mill that has been vacant for decades into a 5-story, multi-use building with a mixed modern/rustic style architecture.

The proposed plan for the BG Mill project includes a parking garage and a small commercial space on the ground floor, 18,000 square feet of office space on the middle levels, and 10 condos on the top two levels. The project developers, Michael Ochsner and Chris Lohss, plan to integrate three silos from the grain mill into landscaping features and hopefully keep the “BG Mill” logo for the new building.

Although there has been a long, drawn-out debate over mid-rise buildings changing the character of Bozeman’s small-town charm, Ochsner and Lohss point out that the site, located on the southeast corner of Mendenhall Street and Broadway Avenue, is already surrounded by other existing commercial properties.

While residents are concerned that the Black-Olive project, another mid-rise building proposed for Bozeman, would cast a shadow over Bozeman’s southern historic downtown neighborhoods, the BG Mill project may not cause nearly the same issue.

Positioned between the south end of a neighborhood and the north end of downtown Main Street, the site seems to be better suited for its location where it wouldn’t obstruct views of the Bridger Mountains to the North—a major point in the argument against mid-rise buildings in Bozeman.

The project developers said they haven’t filed an application for the project yet, but plan to do so by next week. Once approved, construction of the BG Mill project is hoped to break ground this summer.

A public meeting will be held at the Bozeman Public Library on April 13 at 7 p.m. to discuss the project and gather feedback from the public.

All Current Proposed Mid-Rise Development Projects for Bozeman.

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Bozeman Ranks Second As The Fastest Growing Small Town In America

 

Bozeman Becomes Hot Spot For High-Tech Companies

 

Bozeman Invests Millions in More Parks and Trails

Bozeman Montana Becomes Hot Spot for High Tech Companies

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The high-tech industry is thriving in Montana, growing at a rate seven times faster than other sectors.

Montana’s high-tech companies are expecting to add roughly 1,000 new jobs this year, paying an average salary of $60,000—more than double the median annual income in Montana.   

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance counted a total of 546 tech companies in Montana as of December 20, 2016. Yet the organization says there are even more companies unaccounted for, as smaller companies may be hiding in remote business parks and second-floor offices without signage.

Much of the attention seems to be focused around the Universities. With Montana State University pumping out more qualified talent each year, as FICO Chief Executive Officer Will Lansing says, “the talent pool in this part of Montana has attracted dozens of leading technology firms.”

High Density of High Growth, High-Tech Companies

He wasn’t kidding either. Here’s a list of some of the most successful high-growth technology companies in Bozeman, Montana.

Ascent Vision, an aerospace technology company based in Bozeman, grew from two people to a team of 50 and made millions within just the first year of operation in 2013. Last year, the company began construction of a new 30,000 sq. ft. facility by Belgrade. It will be interesting to see how this company will grow with the rising demand for sensors in UAVs, counter UAS systems, self-driving cars, and ground based military applications.

Elixiter, a marketing services firm, averaged an astounding 100 percent growth rate year over year, landing on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016. Having such rapid and unanticipated expansion, the company relocated four times in four years, finally settling on the northeast side of Bozeman.

FICO, a data analytics company for credit rating services, plans to add a new location in downtown Bozeman, and hire 50 new employees within the next 18 months. The company employs roughly 3,000 around the world, and is a recognized leader in analytic technology. FICO was ranked #31 among the Top Technology Providers in financial services ​by American Banker and BAI, and was also named to the Analytics 50 by Drexel University and CIO.com.

Foundant Technologies, is a “software-as-a-service” company in Bozeman that develops grant and scholarship management software, was also on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016, but for the third consecutive year in a row.   

PrintingForLess.com (PFL), while technically located in Livingston, Montana, is close enough to give credit to the Bozeman area. PFL landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies for three consecutive years, and appeared on CNBC, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times for having innovative HR policies. Having established the first website for commercial printing, PFL has made significant progress since it was founded in 1996. It evolved from a traditional print shop into a sophisticated marketing technology company. It’s expecting significant growth in 2017 with its new software, named “Tactile Marketing Automation.”

Quiq, a firm that develops text messaging software for customer service, scored a $6.5 million investment last year—a great start after just being established in October 2015. Company CEO Mike Myer, a former employee of RightNow Technologies before it sold to Oracle for $1.8 billion, says it was an easy decision to choose to start this business in Bozeman. He says “Montana is a great place to recruit up-and-coming people, and not just recruiting, but retention and loyalty.”

Wisetail, a learning management software (LMS) company in Bozeman, is an inspiring entrepreneurial example. Amidst the most recent housing crisis, company founder, Justin Bigart, started the company with the ambition to repay his debts, refusing to consider bankruptcy as an option. His hard work and determination certainly paid off. Wisetail ranked #32 in Outside Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2016, named one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America by Inc., and one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Best Small Businesses in America.  


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Bozeman Invests Millions in More Parks and Trails

 

Bozeman Ramps Up Development This Spring

 

A Skeptic Outlook for $125 Million Proposal for Two Bozeman High Schools

Bozeman Invests Millions in More Parks and Trails

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

bozeman trails

 

As Bozeman has grown, The Bozeman Parks and Recreation Department has been taking steps to maintain and enhance our beloved parks and trails. The department currently manages more than 40 parks and 60+ miles of trails in and around Bozeman.

The one thing that the city of Bozeman, Montana takes pride in, above all, is its parks and trails. People come here for the freedom to get lost in the bliss of Montana’s beautiful countryside, while also being just minutes from the heart of a bustling city.

Since the $15 million park bond was approved by voters in 2012, the city spent about $14 million of its funding on projects such as stream remodeling, trail extensions and three new parks that will add 150 acres to the city’s current 500 acres of parks.

 

Six major park projects are currently underway in Bozeman.

 

The Story Mill Community Park Project is working on transforming 55 acres adjoining the historic Story Mill on the northeast side Bozeman, an area currently lacking in parks, into both a nature sanctuary and a fun place outdoor recreation, community gatherings, and educational programs.

This new park will be an urban-style wetland, outlined by boardwalks along Bridger Canyon Drive, with a new trail, named Story Mill Spur, added to the trail network. In addition, this project will turn an old boys and girls club into the city’s first community center. 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFSoIBKxV_U

 

A New 80-acre Sports Park will be built on the west side of town, by Flanders Mill Road and Baxter Lane. The park will include 12 rectangular fields for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and ultimate Frisbee, while also having open space, trails, and a playground and a splash pad for the kids. This park is planned to open in 2018.  

A Nine-Acre Addition will be made to the 16-acre Bozeman Pond Park near Gallatin Valley Mall. This extension will include a new off-leash dog park, more trails, picnic areas and a natural playground.

Enhancement will be made to Bozeman Creek through Bogert Park, as part of the city's environmental restoration initiative. The Bozeman Creek Enhancement Committee believes that the Bozeman Creek “is a focal point of our quality of life,” and intends “restore the natural processes for a functioning stream ecosystem.

Two New Trails will be added to connect Bozeman’s trail system to the “M.” Front Street Trail will connect Oak Street Pathway to Story Mill Spur, leading to a 2.1-mile path that will be paved all the way to the famous “M” Trail. The goal of this project is to eliminate the need for hikers and bikers to drive a car just to get out of town. The completion date for this project is set for 2018.

More To Come, as the director of Bozeman Parks and Recreation, Mitch Overton, says there’s another $25 million in park projects underway with contributions from partners like Trust for Public Land, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the Sports Park Foundation and many others. Seems like a great value for taxpayers!

 

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​​The Cost of Improving Bozeman's Transportation Infrastructure

 

A Skeptic Outlook For $125 Million Proposal For Two Bozeman High Schools​

 

Bozeman Ramps Up Development This Spring

The Cost of Improving Bozeman's Transportation Infrastructure

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

It’s great to see Bozeman, Montana grow and prosper as a thriving community, but there’s always a catch to population growth—traffic.

The city expects that by 2040, Gallatin County will have 77,000 new residents, 36,000 housing units, along with 48,000 new jobs. Even if all of Bozeman’s road projects on its 5-year plan are completed, the city projects that traffic will still overcrowd major streets like Huffine, College, Griffin, 19th and 11th Avenue

The Cost of Adding Traffic Capacity

The city is well-aware of the challenge ahead to accommodate for Bozeman’s rapid growth, and they found that the cost would be staggering. According to actual construction bids, a standard two-lane road in Bozeman, with curbs, bike lanes and sidewalks, costs about $2.2 million per mile. Four lane roads are more than double the cost, at roughly $5 million per mile.

Upgraded intersections are also incredibly expensive. A large traffic signal was estimated to cost about $2.4 million, and a roundabout would cost about $2.9 million.

If the city follows through with every project that it has planned for Bozeman for over next 25 years, the total cost would amount to an estimated $380 million. This plan includes 58 major street network upgrades ($174 million), more than 42 miles of new roads ($129 million), and 53 “system management” projects, which mostly includes intersection upgrades ($77 million).

How Can We Mitigate These Costs?

With such a high price tag for new roads and intersections, it’s understandable that the city is so conservative about starting new construction projects. Fortunately, with the exception of Rouse Avenue north of Peach Street and Kagy Boulevard between 19th and Seventh, Bozeman’s streets are still big enough to handle their current traffic volumes, according to the engineers working on the plan.

To minimize the need to sacrifice hard-earned tax-payer dollars, the city encourages drivers to use alternative transportation options.

One option, of course, is to have more commuters walk or ride a bike. However, while this may work for the summer months (which wouldn’t help much because school is out for summer anyways), we wouldn’t see many people enduring the brunt of winter just to get to work or school.

Another more practical idea is to break up the typical 9 to 5 work schedule. City planners are currently working with researchers at the Western Transportation Institute (an affiliate of Montana State University) to coordinate alternating work schedules with employers in attempt to calm the intensity of rush hour traffic.

For those that simply have no other option, they can try to plan a route around the most congested intersections. For your reference, below are some the most overloaded intersections to avoid:

  • Baxter and Davis
  • Babcock and Ferguson
  • Kagy and Seventh
  • Kagy and Sourdough

Here are also several intersections that are most prone to crashes:

  • Valley Center Spur and Frontage Road
  • 19th Avenue and Goldenstein
  • Willson and Peach

 

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Bozeman Ramps Up Development This Spring

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Looks like this spring is going to be a busy season for Bozeman, Montana. Aside from the many new residential homes and apartment buildings sprouting up around town, numerous new businesses are opening soon and development projects are breaking ground.

Here is a quick snap shot of some of the new development happening now in Bozeman.   

Restaurants

There are several new restaurants coming to town, and most are opening around the same time in April. Here are a few of them.  

The M Donut Factorylocated on Main Street, is set for a slow opening in April, and then a grand opening in June. The owner, a retired cop from California, is excited to share his love for donuts with Bozeman. He plans to offer all traditional doughnuts at first, then specialties, and eventually some gluten-free and vegan options. 

The M Donut Factory

Sweet Peaks Ice Cream will be opening in April, replacing the old Rockford Coffee shop on Seventh Avenue and Main Street. The ice cream shop will offer more than a dozen flavors, ranging from honey cinnamon to Madagascar vanilla, and homemade waffle cones.

Sweet Peaks Ice Cream

Stuffed Crepes and Waffles will be bringing a little piece of France to Bozeman on downtown Main Street, next to the Country Bookshelf. Sometime in April, this crepe and waffle joint will offer both authentic and non-traditional crepes and waffles, smoothies, ice-cream, and delicious parfaits.

Sidewinders is set to open on June 1st on Bozeman’s west side, off Huffine Lane. This family-owned and operated American grill will feature 8,000 square feet, with rooftop seating, a large bar, and even an arcade! The restaurant is popular for its chicken pot pies, French onion soups, and stuffed pretzels, while also serving burgers and steaks. The best part about this place? — a selection of more than 70 draft beers!

Taco del Sol will be catering to Four Corner’s growing appetite in April with a second location closer to home. On Shedhorn Drive, in the old Frugal Frame Shop, this new shop will be much smaller than the one on Main Street, with under 1,000 square feet floor space. The owner intends to cater to the “summer crowd” that passes through Four Corner’s, offering to-go cold wraps, snacks, bars and fruit in addition to its regular tacos and burritos.

Commercial Development

There are two new commercial development projects set for Bozeman, with one underway right now.

#1 A project has just started to turn 20-acres of the Opportunity Subdivision (south of Target and the City Brew on North 19th Avenue) into 6 developed lots—5 will be for shops and businesses, and 1 will be residential. Right now, construction of two roads is underway for this development, named Kimberwike and Max streets. The plan does not specify what the businesses and tenants will be for the commercial lots.

#2  There is also a 19-acre development project in the works for the Ferguson Farm development. The plan includes yet another restaurant and a 22,000-square-foot multi-use space that will host about nine businesses, including anything from brew pubs to coffee shops, and eventually a lodge and grocery. The project is planned to start sometime this summer.  

Office Buildings

Two new office buildings are being built across from each other on the intersection of 19th Avenue and College Street.

On the northwest corner, the old house currently sitting on the lot will be torn down to make way for a 17,000-square-foot commercial building. According to the planning documents, this space will be used for offices.

On the northeast corner, next to the Montana Skin Cancer and Dermatology Center, Excel Physical Therapy is constructing a two-story, 8,500 square foot building that the company plans to relocate to. The top floor will be rented out to a separate business.

More to Come

As a rapidly growing and thriving community, there is much more to come for Bozeman. The city has been attracting a lot of attention for its entrepreneurial activity and business success, making-up another great reason to move here than for just its beautiful scenery, outdoor recreation, and small-town charm. It will be exciting to see what the high-tech sector brings our town in the years to come.

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A Skeptic Outlook for $125 Million Proposal for Two Bozeman High Schools

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman’s $125 million plan for a second high school and improvements to the existing one is awaiting voter approval in the upcoming May 2nd election, and the outlook doesn’t look so good.

Voters normally approve Bozeman School District’s development plans, and by big margins. In the last seven school construction bond proposals, ($36 million for Bozeman High School, $16 million for Sacajawea Middle School, $5.5 million for Hawthorne Elementary, $17.5 million and $26.3 million to build Hyalite Elementary and Meadowlark Elementary, and two bonds of $14.1 million and $5.75 to build the new Chief Joseph Middle School) each were approved by margins as high as 62 to 70 percent.

It seems, however, that voters are changing pace. In the last November election, voters of Gallatin County rejected the $71.5 million proposal for a new courts and law enforcement facility. The proposal lost by 3 percent (47% approved by city and county voters).

Even more discouraging to the School Board is the results from a recent poll conducted by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. While it was an unscientific online poll, it revealed that out of 1,500 responses, 54 percent disapproved of the project (811 disapproved, 591 approved, and 99 were undecided).

Why the Opposition?

In a recent meeting with a room full of retirees, attendees expressed their concern that the project would spend unnecessary tax dollars. One gentleman criticized the plan for not saving money by sharing sports facilities with Montana State University. $2.5 million of the proposed plan would go toward upgrading Bozeman High’s current stadium, and more would go toward a large gym for the new high school.  

Countering the skepticism, Rob Watson, the school superintendent, explained that the School Board already cut the original estimate down from $144 million, and added that MSU couldn’t guarantee that the high schools could use its facilities.

What Will This Project Cost Taxpayers?

The cost to taxpayers for the $125 million plan would be about a 9 percent increase in property tax over a 20-year period for homeowners in the Bozeman elementary school district. As the city grows with more businesses and homes, however, the cost should decrease as more property owners share the expense.

The School Board Says Bozeman Needs This Project

The School Board urges voters to approve this project, explaining that the current high school is reaching its 2,400-student capacity and is deteriorating. Trustee Wendy Tage says that the glass-walled lobby in front of the cafeteria “could fall over in an earthquake.” And the amount of repair and maintenance that is needed for Bozeman High School would be like, as Parent Matt Kraska says, “polishing a turd.”

If this bond doesn’t get passed, the School Board would have no choice to go back to the drawing board and modify its plan for the next election in November. Watson says that if they must, they could either plan a smaller design for the new high school or make fewer improvements the current one, but something needs to be done nonetheless.

 

Below is where the new Bozeman high school would be located, on the corner of West Oak and Cottonwood Road.

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Another Mid-Rise Building Approved for Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The lots currently occupied by the vacant old Pizza Hut at 716 W. Babcock Street and the home next to it may soon be the site of another four-story apartment building in Bozeman. The SOBO Lofts, or South Bozeman Lofts, is planned to hold 42 one-bedroom apartments and 3,000 square feet of commercial space facing Babcock Street.

The project came by surprise as it was approved by Bozeman planning director Marty Matsen without a public hearing before the Bozeman City Commission. Meanwhile, a heated debate over another mid-rise building is already underway for the Black-Olive proposal downtown. It will be interesting to see how the neighbors respond when they see this building go up.  

Here’s a map of all the mid-rise buildings that are currently planned or being constructed in Bozeman: 

 

Matsen said that the SOBO Lofts plans abides by Bozeman’s zoning code, which does not merit a hearing before city commissioners. The SOBO building is planned to be 50 feet high, and include 52 parking spaces, which Matsen says is well within the zoning requirements. In this B-2M zoning district, buildings are restricted to 60 feet in height. However, some residents have expressed concern about overflow parking and the scale of the building conflicting with the character of the neighborhood.

Projects that do not conflict with zoning codes are only reviewed by the city planning department, and approved by the planning director. Matsen also pointed out that the proposal was presented to a public hearing with the Design Review Board and was granted a unanimous approval, but it wasn’t as well attended as the packed meetings for the Black-Olive proposal.

What About the Black-Olive Project?

While the Black-Olive project was also within zoning requirements, it was unique in that the City Commission reclaimed authority over the city planning director’s approval after concerned neighbors appealed the planning director’s approval (A public hearing before the commission is scheduled for April 3rd). The same can be done for the SOBO Lofts if an “aggrieved party” appeals the decision to the City Commission—for a fee of $8,700.

The developer behind the SOBO project, Rob Pertzborn, from Intrinsik Architecture, says they are moving forward with the project, but he has not yet confirmed a date to begin construction. His next step is to apply for a demolition permit, then develop construction designs and seek bids from contractors.

 

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