Burns Street Commons Complete, Sen. Baucus Visits

by Jason Wiener

Bob Oaks of the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC) asked me to pass along this good news about NMCDC’s latest perpetually affordable home ownership project, Burns Street Commons, and Wednesday’s visit by Senator Baucus to celebrate the project’s completion.

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This coming Wednesday, at 3:00 p.m., Missoula Mayor John Engen will join Senator Max Baucus to celebrate the completion of Burns Street Commons. The Commons is a 17-unit housing component of Burns Street Square, the largest publicly funded community revitalization project ever undertaken in this low-income Missoula neighborhood. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. and will be followed by an open house of the Burns Street Commons’ homes. Refreshments will be served at both events. The Commons is located at 1400 Burns Street (between Cooley and Turner Streets). Burns Street Square is a project of the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC).

Since 2001, the NMCDC’s community land trust has provided 47 new homes for income qualified, first-time, buyers in Missoula.  Bob Oaks, Executive Director of the NMCDC says, “In terms of home ownership, over the last seven years, the NMCDC has built more homes in the old North and Westside neighborhoods than any other developer, including the for-profit sector that has concentrated more on multi-family rental projects.”

Oaks goes on to say, “Community land trusts are fast becoming the workforce housing strategy of choice in high cost communities. In Montana, these include the newly formed Whitefish Area Land Trust (WALT) and fledgling groups in Kalispell and Great Falls. Just last month, the Montana Board of Housing awarded the NMCDC a “Certificate of Excellence” for its pioneering work in establishing a community land trust in Missoula.”

Currently, the NMCDC has 17 new townhouse and condominium units for sale. The Burns Street Square development expands the community land trust model to include a commercially oriented community center building. That community center will focus on nutrition and will attempt to democratize fresh, local and whole foods to a wider variety of Missoulians.  The fledgling Missoula Community Market is already in the old freight building. The NMCDC plans to remodel it to add a cafe and commercial kitchen. Also last month, a federal appropriations subcommittee recommended that the NMCDC receive $1,000,000 to help with the building’s remodeling expenses.

For additional information on Burns Street Square contact the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation at (406) 829-0873 or visit www.nmcdc.org.

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