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New Boutique Hotel Pays Tribute to Bozeman Architect Fred Willson

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The Bozeman we all know and love today would look much different without the influence and design of Bozeman-born architect Frederick Willson.

After spending time in Paris following his graduation from Columbia University, Willson brought the influence of multiple architectural styles back to Bozeman with him, including Mission Revival and Art Deco. Over the next 46 years, he designed hundreds of well-known buildings in Bozeman and other Montana cities, including the Ellen Theatre, the Baxter Hotel, the Emerson Cultural Center, and both MSU’s original Student Union Building and Hamilton Hall. Although Willson died in 1956, his work can still be seen around Bozeman, West Yellowstone and Three Forks today.

Fast forward to 2018— the old National Guard armory building on the corner of Mendenhall and Willson will soon be transformed into the Etha Hotel, an eight-story boutique hotel with 122 rooms and a pool. Bozeman-based Venue Architects have plans to convert the concrete structure into a 17,000 square foot space, which will have enough room for an event area and an American bistro on the ground floor, and a bar or restaurant on the building’s rooftop.

The hotel will retain 98% of the original armory building, which was designed by Willson and constructed in 1941. The new building’s Art Deco style will imitate that of Willson’s previous designs, as elements such as doors and awnings have been taken from sketches of Willson’s that were never included in the armory’s original design. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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

Big Sky 2025- Expanding & Improving America's Third Largest Ski Resort

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

With a population of 2,500 (and counting), a medical center that offers emergency services and inpatient care, numerous shops and restaurants, and an accessible 5,800 acres of public skiing, both the community of Big Sky and the resort itself are turning heads as expansions to the area continue every year.

Already the third largest ski resort in America, and consistently seeing more skiers every winter season, the resort’s Big Sky 2025 plan is well underway. First announced in 2016, this plan will cost the resort upwards of $150 million in costs related to Mountain Village renovations, installations of new chairlifts and upgrades to existing ones, and preparing Andesite Mountain for night skiing.  

So far, Powder Seeker (a high-speed, six-seater lift with bubble covers and heated seats) has been installed, and the Challenger lift was replaced with a triple fixed-grip and a conveyor load, which shortened ride time by 25%. Next on the agenda is the installation of North America’s first eight-seat, high-speed chairlift. Named Ramcharger 8, the lift will feature extra-wide heated seats, bubble covers, and an LED screen at the bottom terminal with up-to-date guest information. While there are other eight-seater chairlifts worldwide (majority being in Europe, two in South Korea, and one in Australia), Ramcharger 8 will be the world’s most technologically advanced lift ever built, and will be open in time for skiers to enjoy during the 2018-19 ski season.

Next steps in the plan include:

  • Replacing the Shedhorn double chair with a high-speed quad
  • Transforming the upper level of the Mountain Mall (addition of indoor fireplaces, an elevator, a coffee bar, traditional apres ski bars, and new food options)
  • Expanded snowmaking coverage
  • Night skiing on Andesite Mountain
  • Gondola installation

Further down the road in the late stages of the plan, several additional lift upgrades, hotel renovations, and Montana Club developments are scheduled to take place.

Making preparations and expansions now is a proactive approach to the inevitable growth and increased volume of traffic that both the community of Big Sky and its resort are bound to see in coming years. Bozeman’s population is expected to nearly double in size in the next few decades, the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is currently preparing for increased airline traffic, and Gallatin County as a whole is expected to gain 55,000 new residents by 2045. It’s clear that although once considered a hidden treasure, Montana (and more specifically the Bozeman/Big Sky area) is garnering more attention over time as we see more tourists in the area, and more visitors deciding to Montana their permanent home. 

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Prepares for More Traffic

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Home prices are rising, the population is growing, and our overall economy is expanding— which means that our airport is also seeing an increase in traffic. In 2017, the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) handled just shy of 1.2 million passengers, and now accounts for 30% of all airline traffic in and out of Montana. With an 8.3% increase in traffic from 2016, this is the 8th consecutive year of record breaking passenger traffic for BZN.

BZN is the busiest airport in the state, and the 8th busiest in the Northwest Region of the country (region including Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and Washington). With passenger levels currently predicted to be 10% higher this summer than previous years, several upgrades and expansions are scheduled to take place within the next few years to accommodate the ever-increasing growth.

  • The Largest Parking Garage in Montana

Originally on the airport’s to-do list for 2021, the construction of a 4-story, 1,100 stall parking garage began in December and is now scheduled to be completed by June. The garage (which is estimated to cost $30 million) will contain long-term, short-term, and rental car parking.

  • New Terminal Additions

Though not to be completed for several years, a terminal expansion will begin this summer, once the parking garage is complete. The expansion will include three new gates and the ability to handle the inevitable increase in more baggage.

  • Main Runway Maintenance

Runway maintenance is required every 15 years. This spring, the main runway is scheduled to close for three weeks to complete maintenance. Between April 30th and May 19th, no flights will operate between 12:30pm and 11:00pm. This project will cost the airport an estimated $7 million, although if the airport were to entirely close during this time, it would cost the airport an additional $2 million/day. Other runways will still operate during this three-week period, and the main runway will operate outside of the 12:30 pm to 11:00pm time frame.

  • The Addition of a Tower Controller

In order to better handle growing traffic, the airport will add one new tower controller and additional tower hours. With these new additions, tower coverage will span from 5:00am to 1:00am— the current hours of operation are 6:00am to midnight. The new controller will be fully trained and certified by this summer.

 

BZN serves as a year-round gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort, and Montana State University. With airline traffic continually increasing every year, it only makes sense for our airport to keep pace as it continues to improve and expand its current facilities to better cater to the growing community. 


Housing Market Trends Amongst Generation Y

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Inventory of homes for sale is tight and as a result, months of supply is low. With so many homes not remaining on the market for long, sellers have the advantage over buyers in that they have a much higher chance of obtaining top dollar for their home.  While this information isn’t new, you may be surprised to learn that generational trends play a huge role in today’s housing market, particularly amongst the buyer population. 

Who’s Buying the Most?

Different generations have different home buying tendencies and patterns. In 2016, Millennials/Generation Y (ages 36 and younger) represented 35% of all homebuyers across all other generations. This year, that number is down to 34%— still the largest share of home buyers. Of these buyers, 66% were also first-time home buyers. Generation X (ages 37-51) represented 28%, Younger Baby Boomers (ages 52-61) represented 16%, Older Baby Boomers (ages 62-70) represented 14%, and the Silent Generation (71-91) represented 8%.

 

Of all Gen Y buyers, 46% had a median student loan balance of $25,000, and 23% agreed that saving for a down payment was the most difficult step in the home buying process. It makes sense that this loan balance would decrease over time as the buyer ages, due to increases in income— however, 27% of buyers between the ages of 37 and 51 had the highest median loan balance of $30,000. This is likely due to accumulation of their children’s college loans on top of their own remaining balances.

Why Is Gen Y Dominating the Buyer’s Market?

Despite low inventory, rising house prices, and student loan debt, why does Gen Y represent the largest share of home buyers? For starters, rent prices are on the rise too— when taking into consideration that monthly rent payments can increase over time and mortgage payments are fixed, many Gen Yers are leaning towards home ownership. Many are also choosing a mortgage over renting because of their dogs— 33% of Gen Y home buyers stated their primary reason for purchasing a home was to have a yard and plenty of room for their dog, while 25% stated it was because of marriage and 19% stated that it was the birth of a child. Simply put, the desire to own a home of their own, the desire for a larger home, and a change in their family situation were the top 3 reasons amongst all Gen Yers for purchasing a home.

Looking Towards 2018

Although student debt and rising house prices may present a challenge for some, many Gen Yers are putting these factors aside and continuing to contribute to the housing market in a pretty significant way. As the days remaining before 2018 starts are limited, here’s what the Professional Warranty Service Corporation predicts for generational home trends for the new year: Gen Yers will represent 45% of all home loans while Baby Boomers represent 30%, and overall home sales will increase by 8%, or about 670,000 units. So far, it looks like Gen Y is on track to dominate the market for another year! 


Related Articles: 

Home Prices and Growth: What's Going On?

Survey Finds Seceding Buyer Confidence in the Real Estate Market

Red Flags in the Real Estate Market

 

5 Tips to Help Your Home Sell in the Winter

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

True or false- the best time to sell your home is typically during the spring and summer months— true. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t sell during the winter and still get a great price.

If you’re considering selling this winter, here are several tips to help you prepare your home:

  • Snow removal: In order to set foot inside your home, buyers have to get there first. Shovel the snow and use salt to melt any ice patches, and ensure that the path to the lockbox (if you’re using one) is clear for agents.
  • Curb appeal still matters: Even though people won’t be spending much time outside the home for several months yet, it’s still important to maintain the exterior— clean out the gutters and keep trees and shrubs trimmed to help buyers envision what your home will look like during warmer months.
  • Set the scene: Create a cozy feeling during showings— add blankets to the couch, light some candles and use tasteful Christmas décor if selling during the holidays. If you have a fireplace, use it to showcase both its ability to warm up a room and its added aesthetic to your home.
  • Light it up: Winter has a tendency to remove a lot of natural light. To combat this, open window treatments during the day and utilize lightbulbs and candles to create as much lighting as possible.
  • Keep on eye on the weather: Be prepared for delays due to bad weather— showings, inspections and even document transmissions can be delayed if a winter storm rolls in. 

 

Sometimes homes sell for more during the snowy months because there is less inventory to choose from, although the amount of time to sell is dependent on weather, which in turn is dependent on the number of showings you’ll get. Even though there are fewer buyers during the winter months, the buyers that ARE looking tend to be more motivated. While there are benefits to selling during the spring and summer, there are also benefits to selling during the winter as well. 


Related Articles:

6 Things to Do Before You Take That Vacation

5 Areas to Focus On: How to Increase Your Home's Resale Value

Top Home Improvement Projects That Sell 

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. 


Related articles:

Expert Tips For Spring Cleaning: Improve Energy Efficiency and Air Quality of Your Home

5 Easy Steps To an Energy-Efficient Home

Bozeman Montana Becomes Hot Spot For High Tech Companies

10 Best Trails Around Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


Nestled in the middle of Montana’s great mountain ranges, Bozeman offers adventure seekers almost limitless trails to explore. Here’s 10 of our favorite trails around Bozeman, Montana.

Sourdough

Located within close proximity to town, Sourdough Trail, also known as Bozeman Creek Trial, is popular among Bozemanites. Following the Bozeman Creek, it has an easy grade, and the distance you hike, bike, or cross-country-ski on this 10 mile trail is up to you. The trail ends at Mystic Lake, with interconnected logging trails and roads to continue your adventure.

Lava Lake Trail

Following the Cascade Creek under a thick evergreen forest canopy and through open green meadows, this trail will take you past waterfalls and a lake settled in the middle of granite walls, with clear views of the Spanish Peaks in the distance.

Drinking Horse Trail

This is a short, yet steep, 2.2 mile looped trail gives you a great vantage point for views over Bozeman, Bridger Canyon, and the Gallatin Valley. This is a relatively easy trail to take the family. 

Palisade Falls

This paved, one mile trail is easy for taking the kids on a stroll through beautiful scenery with towering rock walls and a tall waterfalls at the finish line. 

“M” Trail

Taking you up to the signature “M” embedded on the mountain North of Bozeman, this trail is popular among the locals. There are two ways to the top—one with a short steep climb and the other with an easier, moderate climb. This trail offers gorgeous views over Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley.

Baldy Peak Summit

Going above the "M" trail, this hike takes you through forested areas to an exposed ridge with panoramic views high above the surrounding areas. With 4,000 feet of elevation gain over 7 miles, this is a difficult trail for the ambitious hikers.

Sypes Canyon

This trail takes you 6.2 miles up 1,656 feet on the North side of Bozeman. It follows a river through the canyon and opens up to another beautiful view of Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley.

Hyalite Creek Trail

In route to Hyalite Lake, this 5.5 mile moderate grade trail takes you past beautiful waterfalls, high mountain walls, fast flowing creeks, meadows, and wildflowers before rewarding you with the crystal clear lake at the finish line.

Pine Creek Lake Trail

Meandering 5.5 miles through forest trees up 3,400 vertical feet to Pine Creek Lake, this trail in the Absaroka mountain range offers stunning views of the valley below, colorful trees, a series of waterfalls and streams, and a beautiful clear lake at the top.

Storm Castle Peak

This beautiful hike is located south of Bozeman in the Gallatin Range. This trail is a great one for a calf workout, taking you 2.5 miles up to 7,170 feet elevation. Surrounded by interesting geology with swirling patterns of dark and light rock along cliffs, the spectacular views are worth the punishment.

 

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Some Big Names You Probably Didn’t Know Live In Montana

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Apparently, Montana is the desired place to be among the rich and famous. There are quite a few American icons living among us. So who are these people, and where are they?

 

Michael Keaton lives somewhere in the Big Timber area near Livingston, but his exact location is unknown. Helena’s Independent Record article from October 1986, reported that he owns a 565-acre ranch south of Big Timber. You might find him fishing with Tom Brokaw and relaxing on the great rivers of Montana. 

 

Tom Brokaw, is a former broadcaster for an Omaha radio station, KMTV, and better known as the NBC’s anchor from 1982 to 2004. He now works as a Special Correspondent for NBC News, as well as making documentaries for other media outlets. Mr. Brokaw found his interest in Montana when he came to shoot a documentary and speak for The Montana Bar Association in the 1980s. The only fee he charged for speaking was to be dropped off “at a trailhead and picked up five days later.” After being brought back a second time a few years later for more work, he didn’t want to leave, leading to his purchase of West Boulder Ranch near Livingston. He was so committed to stay that he made the journey to and from New York for weeks at a time, which turned into months as the years rolled on.

 

Dennis Quaid was a famous movie star who came about in the 1980s, starring in a variety of drama and comedy movies. Some movies he plays in that you might recall are The Rookie, The Day After Tomorrow, The Parent Trap, and a number of other box office hits. In the late-80s, Mr. Quaid bought a ranch near Livingston that was jointly owned by the actor Warren Oats and director Sam Peckinpah. His home was unique in that it had hardwood floors recovered from the Great Fire of Chicago of 1871. Sadly, he sold this beautiful $14 million estate in 2011.

 

Huey Lewis, a popular lead singer of Huey Lewis and the News from the 1980s, found his way to Montana in 1987. He bought a 500-acre ranch outside of Stevensville, where he lives comfortably today. Mr. Lewis has been known to contribute to the community in a variety of ways, one being his funding of the Missoula Jazz band. You’d also find him, as well as with many others on this list, fly-fishing along Big Sky’s rivers and streams.

 

You know David Letterman as a famous talk show host, but what you probably didn’t know that he is another fellow Montana lover. He owns a huge 2700-acre ranch located 35 miles outside of Choteau, Montana, neighboring Glacier National Park. He also owns a ranch in Ruby Valley, which is closer to the southwest corner of the state. Although he spends most of his time in Salem, New York, he shows interest in settling down in his Montana home as a permanent residence when he retires. 

 

Another well-known name among Montana residences, but is sadly no longer with us, was Chet Huntley, the founder of what is now the largest ski resort in the nation, Big Sky Resort. Born on December 10, 1911, Chet Huntley passed several decades ago. He will be remembered as he contributed to a large part of the lives of many winter enthusiasts who come to enjoy the many slopes of Big Sky Resort. Chet Huntley attended the local college at Montana State University, from which he transferred to University of Washington and graduated in 1934 with a degree in both speech and drama. He then began his career at a Seattle radio station, moved around as he climbed the ladder, and then found his way to NBC news in 1955. With his love for skiing, he returned to Montana in summer of 1970. He then began work on the project skiers and snowboarders came to appreciate him for, the opening of Big Sky Resort. Sadly, Mr. Huntley wasn’t able to stick around to see the magnificent work he built. He passed away at 62 in March 1974, three days before the grand opening.

 

A list of other names can be found in the private community of the prestigious Yellowstone Club, tucked away in the mountains of Big Sky, Montana. This club was reported to have about 250 members, each of which are required to pay a minimum of $250,000 to join, in addition to the price of their $5 million to $25 million mountainside home. Notable members include a number of American celebrities & icons such as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Warren Miller, Phil Mickelson, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Dan Quayle, Greg LeMond, Jack Kemp, Tom Brady, Jeff Bridges, and of course, Bill Gates. 

 

Apparently, Montana is the place to be. Justin Timberlake and his wife chose to move to a quiet place in Big Sky where they can raise their child away from the busy, big city life. There are a number of other unaccounted celebrities that live in and appreciate the beauty of Montana. When such icons as these all move to the same area, you know it must be a great location!

 

4G LTE Reaching Montana's Countryside

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

It looks like Montana is becoming more connected to the modern world. Governor Steve Bullock just announced on Oct. 6 that T-Mobile is paving the way for spreading its high-speed wireless broadband reach across Montana. This will bring 4G LTE to a wider range of rural areas, reaching out to about 1.1 million people of both Montana and Wyoming.

Governor Steve Bullock has shown his enthusiasm for this development, stating in his recent letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Increased access to high-speed internet and enhanced mobile coverage will further strengthen our state’s business climate and enable Montana businesses to thrive in a global economy and create more job opportunities for hard-working Montana families.

T-Mobile has demonstrated its commitment to this plan with the purchase of three licenses from Charter Communications to allow them to build on this broadband connection in nearly the entire area of Montana east of I-15, as well as four northwestern counties of Wyoming.

This may be groundbreaking news for those who question living out of town for the sake of losing their beloved cell-phone and Internet connection. It looks like the joys of living in a quiet country-side home will be getting even better without having to sacrifice your high-speed reception.

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