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Big Sky Town Center: Expansion & Affordable Housing Update

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

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

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

Artist's Rendition of the Plaza Lofts development

Source: Bechtle Architects & Jim Collins

Is Affordable Housing Still an Issue?

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

A Speedbump in the Road

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

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

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

Big Sky Is Booming: But What About Affordable Housing?

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Big Sky Resort is the third largest ski resort in America and attracts 500,000 skiers annually. After announcing a deal with CrossHarbor Capital Partners to merge Moonlight Basin into Big Sky Resort in 2013, the resort now boasts an impressive 5,800 acres of public skiing, with an additional 2,200 acres available to Yellowstone Club members, yet still remains fairly undiscovered. Although a whopping one million cars drive past Big Sky every year, most of that traffic is Yellowstone National Park bound.

The Housing Issue

Between now and 2025, the resort plans on spending $150 million on improvements. The community of Big Sky currently has a population of 2,500 and in recent years has added numerous shops and restaurants, in addition to a movie theater and a full-service grocery store in 2014. The following year, Big Sky Medical Center started offering emergency services and inpatient care.

Although the community is steadily growing and the resort itself has expanded, there is one issue that still raises concern— most of Big Sky’s workforce commutes to work due to the lack of affordable housing available to employees. Recent data shows that Big Sky is short between 900 and 1,200 units, and that roughly 83% of the entire workforce leaves at the end of the day to begin their commute back to Bozeman and other surrounding areas. (image credit: explorebigsky.com)

Is There a Plan?

David Fowler is an architect who has been working on this issue since 2013. He states that the most important thing to do in order to begin solving this problem and creating more affordable housing is the establishment of an organization to begin accepting donations in order to offset land costs. There is a plan in the works that includes the construction of an 18-condo development on a 4.14-acre parcel known as Sweetgrass Hills in the Town Center, but critics argue that 18 condos don’t count for much when the housing shortage is as high as it is.

Additionally, Lone Mountain Land Company (LMLC) is developing two properties in the Town Center that will be targeted for Yellowstone Club, Moonlight and Spanish Peaks employees. One building will contain 16 units (completion estimated at approximately one year) and the other will hold 32 units. Both buildings will likely be rental properties.

While these plans may not begin to take place in the immediate future, the resort plans on moving forward with its $150 million improvements. Last year two new high-speed chairlifts were added to the mountain, one of which has heated seats and plexiglass bubbles to shield passengers from the elements. A number of new restaurants are expected to be opening soon as well. Overall, Stephen Kircher (president of Boyne Resorts’ operations, of which Big Sky Resort is a part) says that both of these projects are early steps in a 10-year plan to add a European experience to the resort. The addition of more real estate and improved services in the Town Center will help his vision become a reality, though it may be several years down the road before we see any significant changes to the area. 

 

Snow in the Big Sky Mountains!

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


Even though we still have had our share of dreamy September days with blue bird skies and perfect 55 – 60 degree nights, the mountains are starting to get a nice coating of ‘ceiling white’.   We are seeing snow in the Spanish Peaks to the South and of course, Lone Mountain – the main ski mountain at the Big Sky & Moonlight Basin Resorts along with the saddle in the Bridgers.


The juxtaposition of 70 degree temperatures in the Valley with snow on the mountains is what makes Bozeman, well... Bozeman. 


We thought you might also enjoy the Big Sky Resort Tram Cam in Big Sky from the top of Lone Mountain– see this link:

                  https://bigskyresort.com/the-mountain/webcams/interactive-tram-cam
 
If you are thinking about a great ski trip this winter, be sure to check out our local, but world class resorts:

Bozeman is Booming

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

It seems it wasn’t that long ago when distressed properties (bank owned and short sales) made up a significant percentage of the market and there was ‘value’ everywhere.   I put value in quotes as no one really knew how to evaluate value other than to define it as properties that were significantly off their peak value.  I had one particularly wise investor that was purchasing very simple, straightforward investments (condos and townhomes priced under $80,000.00) with the goal of a 10 – 12% return on a cash investment.   He already owned many multi-families but he saw value and also ease of resale in purchasing individual units – he has doubled his investment in most cases.

So much has changed since then.   Without sounding like a glorified cheerleader, here are some quick stats & interesting facts about Bozeman and the surrounding areas, including Big Sky, Gallatin Gateway, Manhattan, Belgrade, and Livingston.

  • Our local university, Montana State University….
    • Had yet another year of record enrollment.  This year enrollment climbed above 16,000 students.  This is the tenth time in the last eleven years that MSU has set an enrollment record.  This makes MSU Montana’s largest university. 
    • Montana State is among the top 3% of colleges and universities in the nation for research expenditures and typically exceeds $100 Million per year – are you kidding me?  This makes MSU the largest research and development entity of any kind in the state.
  • Tech companies are booming in Bozeman
    • A few years ago, in 2011, a boot strapped tech company named Right Now Technologies was purchased by Oracle for $1.5 billion
    • According to Oracle’s founder, Greg Gianforte, in a recent speech he gave, Bozeman is now home to 82 tech companies
    • We are seeing tech companies come here for a myriad of reasons – quality of life, affordable housing as compared to Silicon Valley and other hot beds of tech, a talented work force and more.
  • Montana ranked first in start-ups in the entire US for the fourth straight year
  • The Bozeman Yellowstone International airport is the busiest in the state – 2015 saw over 1,000,000 passengers – a record for the state and the first time this many passengers were accommodated ever
  • Yellowstone Park is just down the road – an absolute jewel in the US
  • The Big Sky ski area also saw record guests at 440,000 visits in 2015 – Big Sky also announced a 10-year plan to invest $150,000,000.00 in improvements to the mountain to accommodate over 650,000 annual visits projected by the year 2025.
  • Bozeman population grew at 4.5% from 2014 to 2015 – standing at 43,400 residents according to the US Census Bureau

I am only scratching the surface – more to come in future letters. There is no better time to join us in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley!

Bozeman A Top Ten Ski Town from USA Today

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The USA Today honored Bozeman as a top ten ski town in the United States, christening it the “adventure capital of the Northern Rockies.” From their website 10Best.com, the national paper pointed to Bozeman’s university town feel, its laid back vibe, and its restaurants and breweries as major factors towards highlighting it as a premier ski destination.

Bozeman’s great location to premier skiing made Bozeman stand out compared to other winter towns. Just 16 miles from Bridger Bowl and less than an hour away from Big Sky, Bozeman also maintains a level of affordability compared to other major ski towns.

In similar news, Big Sky was also honored as the 3rd best Ski Resort in North America by the same panel.

Onthesnow.com also highlighted Bozeman’s amazing skiing. However, what stood out to the writer, was Bozeman’s ability to defy labeling and convention:

“Reflecting on the town during my flight out I struggled to pigeonhole the atmosphere. It wasn’t just a “hard-core skier town” or a “resort town,” although one could argue it’s a bit of both. Bozeman doesn’t harbor an intense local scene—although the Filling Station was a bit rough and tumble—nor is it a tourist trap. So what is Bozeman? In short, it’s a premier ski destination for individuals, friends and families. But it’s more than that. Bozeman is just Bozeman and it’s doing an excellent job of retaining its own unique identity in a land that’s still as wild and wide open as ever. It felt like whomever you were and whatever you were after, Bozeman was happy to make a little extra room on the bench for you.”

In 2014, Bozeman was honored as a top 25 ski destination in the world. As Bozeman continues to make lists like these, more skiers will want to test out the powder for themselves. Tourism in the area continues to grow, attracting more visitors and permanent residents to the Bozeman area.

 

Sources: http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-ski-town/

http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/618707/bozeman--a-ski-destination-in-the-rough

http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-ski-resort/

 

Big Sky Resort Breaks Summer Revenue Record

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Big Sky Resort increased their summer revenue by 10% from the same period in 2014. Since 2014, Big Sky's (town) tourism has been growing faster than both national and state averages.  Over the last few years, Big Sky has invested in its warm weather activity availability.

The resort has focused on continuing to attract visitors all year round by adding new mountain biking trails and new zip lines. Big Sky has also increased its golf presence and added events like Brewfest and running races to attract visitors.

A Big Sky Resort spokesperson pointed to growing tourism in Yellowstone National Park as a catalyst for Big Sky’s summer success. Many visitors to Yellowstone may also take an additional day to see the Big Sky area. Bozeman’s airport has also seen a higher number of visitors, many of whom head to Big Sky.

The Big Sky community has also seen higher visitors too and reported increased lodging tax collections among other tourism indicators.

As Big Sky continues to shift into a year round destination, vacation rentals and other rental investments should see an increase in their value thanks to renter competition. Investment property owners will be happy to know they might squeeze an additional month, or even a full summer out of their vacation rental in Big Sky.

 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/big-sky-resort-reports-record-summer-revenue/article_14396751-2495-5fed-94b4-8d3c6b6f177d.html

State Park Attendance Up Again

by Tim Hart

Montana State Parks had more than 2.2 million visitors in 2014. Visitor totals grew by 3 percent, more than 40,000 more than in 2013. Not only that, but Montana State Parks broke the record for most visitors in their history for the second straight year.

In general, most visitors to the state parks were Montana residents—80% in fact. However, in the Southwest region of Montana (that’s us!) nearly 345,000 visitors were nonresidents. Those numbers are inclusive of the greater Yellowstone area, but not the National Park proper, which sees even higher visitation numbers. After some quick math, that meant 15.6% of the total 20% of nonresidents visiting Montana were actually visiting the Southwest Montana area. Over the past decade, state park numbers have increased by nearly 33 percent.

The percentage of nonresident visitors to Southwest Montana really stood out to me. Southwest Montana, Yellowstone, and the greater Gallatin Valley continue to see increased exposure on the national consciousness, for both its summer and winter outdoor opportunities. As more tourists continue to visit, more of these people may find themselves falling in love with the area, a feeling us Montana residents know too well.  The Gallatin Valley continues growing in part because in part, it sells itself so well to its visitors.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/state/record-numbers-visited-state-parks-in/article_1a9fa933-7ab7-53ce-8bb9-44bc14e89657.html

Big Sky to Lead State in Student Access to Technology

by Tim Hart

The Big Sky school district laid out a plan late November to put technology in the hands of every student in the area. Big Sky would become to first district in Montana to have their technology to student ratio be 1:1 -- great news for any family looking to buy a home in Big Sky.

The district has crafted a three-part vision for how they will approach technology with their students. They want to improve education on information and media literacy, then improve the application of media and communicating with technology, and one day, they hope to have a fully digital classroom.

Once the new program is up and running Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes will have 36 iPads for daily use. Grades 4 through 8 will get Chrome Books and high school students will receive Surface Pro 3’s. Teachers hope to teach children about technology while also teaching them about safety in an ever-growing digital world.

Schools in the local area continue to put an emphasis on technology education. In an changing world, staying at the forefronts of technology will be important to any child’s later success. The continued improvement in technology in Big Sky schools should continue attracting those looking to purchase real estate in Big Sky.

(Bozeman also purchased Chrome Books for its students this semester in an effort to provide the most opportunities available for its students.)

Source: http://www.lonepeaklookout.com/news/article_65340c2c-74d3-11e4-999c-4304f1929d58.html

 

HOA’s in Big Sky Upgrading to Bear-Resistant Trash Cans

by Tim Hart

Three homeowner associations in Big Sky, the Big Sky Owner’s Association, Spanish Peaks Homeowners’ Association and Town Center Homeowners’ Association, will be making the switch to bear resistant trash cans to help improve the number of bears accidentally straying into Big Sky. Trash tends to be the number one attractor of bears, so Republic Services have tried to fix the issue by releasing their new Kodiac Bear Resistant Trash Cans. (Don’t worry! The trash can is just named Kodiac. It is not specific only to Kodiac bears!) Republic services will go through Big Sky and replace the standard blue bins with the new, black, bear resistant bins (again don't worry! They are the color black and can defend off other species of bears as well). The associations who have made the change will see a $6.40 price increase per month for the new cans.

In general, if a bear discovers a food source to be had, it will take advantage. However, if a bear becomes too reliant on city food sources, it can become too bold. Last year, 12 bears were removed from the greater Big Sky area. Nine were black bears that were relocated by the city, two were roadkill and one was poached.

Republic Services hope their new trash cans will help keep bears away from the city, off roads and out of harm’s way. Residents can also feel safer and more comfortable knowing bears will be less likely to make an unexpected house call. Many residents can probably rest easier knowing their trash can will now also be out of harm’s way and that they won’t wake in the morning to find a mess outside their home.

The bear story in Big Sky sheds a lot of light on HOAs and the type of residential concerns they address. Anyone looking to purchase real estate in the Bozeman or Big Sky area should make sure that their HOA’s values and goals match their own values and goals. HOAs can enact positive changes very quickly throughout a neighborhood, as seen in how these three HOAs addressed the growing bear issue However, residents should make sure they know the general perspective of their HOA so such decisions do not take them by surprise.

 

Source: http://www.lonepeaklookout.com/news/article_17bee3e8-6062-11e4-a1e5-af9f9c41a3d5.html

Big Sky business owners and community members are hoping to establish a TEDD in Big Sky to foster increased, infrastructural development. A TEDD, a targeted economic development district, is a district that is eligible to receive additional county taxes for improvement of its infrastructure. A TEDD defines where new developments must occur, based on the money it receives from the TIF system.

With a TIF, tax increment financing, the city would not see an increase in its taxes, despite increasing its development projects. Big Sky would be able to take part in this program by taking the incremental improvement in base property values and new construction from the expected taxable values and use that leftover money to fund developments within the TEDD.

According to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, the TEDD is designed to fund projects that would normally never be started. Essentially, if the project were to fail without additional funding, then and only then, can the project really be considered eligible within the TEDD.

A TEDD and TIF in Big Sky would certainly help foster economic growth in the area. For a small tourism based town, their focus on improving their own infrastructure, shows their desire to continue growing the town of Big Sky. As the economy improves, it will become more attractive to businesses and investors (whether real estate or other), helping to get the ball moving, and growing Big Sky past just a vacation real estate destination.

Source: http://www.lonepeaklookout.com/news/article_3b03c53a-5563-11e4-a7c8-d7cffd97bb55.html

 

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16

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