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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

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