Archive for the ‘Gentrification’ Category

by jhwygirl

Who knew the Hip Strip was so highbrow?

Oh yeah – “own a piece of Missoula’s history in the heart of our vibrant downtown” the Lambros MLS notes: Unit 2, one of the turetted units that’s been renovated, is currently being offered at $499,500, while you can opt to pick it up without a complete interior remodel for only $403,532.

I don’t know, maybe I can pick the colors and the cabinets, and see if they’ll take $495,500. Whadda ya think? I can even forego window treatments.

Of particular interest is the east side patio area which will include an outdoor cooking space with a Viking gas grill and Traeger smoker, dining area and landscaping with seating areas. For indoor gatherings, the community room will have a Brunswick 8′ pool table, card table, wet bar, Sony Bravia XBR LCD television and a restroom.

Quite the party house, huh? Wonder what the rest of the tenant’s will say about all that noise?

Of course, if Unit 2 is out of your price range, perhaps Unit 1 will do – you can pick that one up now for steal (sans complete interior remodel) for $415,000. You’ll have to skip the turret, but you still get the top floor, plus you also get a grand staircase entrance!

Then again, if you are really low on cash you can hit up Units 4-13, which range from $237,000 to $298,750.

Unit 13, coming in at 634 sq. ft. (does that include the closets?) will be $237,000 completely renovated – but of course, you can do the reno yourself and save $20,000.

Before you go all crazy, folks – don’t forget to check the HOA fees and docs before you sign the bottom line.

You’ll also need 20% down. Don’t want to make the mortgage banks too nervous.

by Jamee Greer

Walking back and forth across Higgins Bridge today, I watched the raising of the Wilma’s new sign – a retro throwback that looks great, but sort of reminded me of something. Joe Nickel points out exactly what that something is on his blog, nickellbag.

Customers waiting in line ahead of me at Posh Chocolat were pleased with the sign’s design, but not the scrolling electronic reader board that came with it!

Speaking of Posh Chocolat, look for changes soon as they expand their menu and remodel their space.

by Jamee Greer

I have to say that I’m not surprised by two things on the front front page of today’s Montana Kaimin –

1.) That the Babs Building on 4th Street SW is possibly turning into condominiums, and

2.) That the Kaimin broke this story.

The staff at The University of Montana’s student paper have really earned their fee increase this year, covering (and breaking stories) on everything from queer rights at UM to student renters displaced by gentrification.

I’m not going to offer much commentary on the possible conversion, other than to say it’s too bad to see yet another affordable housing option disappear in a city with a ridiculous vacancy rate – at least for rentals. First there was the Wilma (with its 25 units), then the Montaigne-slash-“Historic Penwell” (with it’s, I believe, 47 units), and now (maybe) the Babs – coming in at an additional 14 units.

Update: I was mistaken in saying the Montana Kaimin has “earned their fee increase this year” – while I knew that students voted against the fee increase (the only increase to fail the student ballot in ’07) – I was under the impression that the Board of Regents went against student wishes and funded the paper anyway.

by Ed Childers

Affordable housing. Save the north hills. Save the south hills. Save the farmland. Protect my neighborhood. Give me a place where I can live.

There may be some mix of people that makes for a good place to live. If I knew what it was, maybe I could do something to encourage it.

I know I’ve left something or someone out. I need some answers. Tell me what to do.Here’s a hypothetical mix of incomes.

10% not working/need complete subsidy.

20% barely making it, do menial work.

30% sort of making it, have places to live because they bought 15 years ago, have sort of not too bad jobs.

20% have those great incomes, either from jobs or retirements or whatever, that allow them to buy those 200,000-500,000 dollar houses you see getting built everywhere.

10% can get whatever they need. They may not want the rest of us living near them.

10% so rich they don’t need anything.

There’s 2% more people every year. They’re born here or move here.

The population ages 2% every year.

So there’s a hypothetical money mix. Fix the mix if you want, I don’t care and for my purposes it probably doesn’t matter. The question I’m asking are, Should all these people have places to live? and, Where or what should they be?

by Pete Talbot

A downtown defines a city and in the 1980’s, Missoula’s downtown was on its way out. The economy was lousy and Southgate Mall was beating up on downtown retailers.

Most of the merchants and other business people downtown would have welcomed The Loft with open arms. Hell, they would have welcomed any business with open arms. Back then, if I remember correctly, Fantasy for Adults played an active role in the Downtown Association.

Jamee Greer created a bit of a firestorm with his recent post on the newly created, members only, tony bar called The Loft. Comments ran the gamut, from attacks on those who would join such a club to a strong defense of the club and its members. The undercurrent to all this was that nasty fourteen-letter word: gentrification.

So being one of the older (as in over 50-years-old) contributors to 4&20 and approaching forty years here in the Garden City, I’d like to offer some perspective. My wife has also been involved in a number of retail and service businesses downtown, and has suffered through the bad years and enjoyed the good ones.

Downtown is in a constant state of flux. A decade ago, who would have thought that there would be six, that I can count, coffee shops downtown? When I first moved here in the late 1960’s, there were three hardware stores, three drug stores and a half-dozen clothing stores in the greater downtown area. Thanks to WalMart, Home Depot and Target, I doubt we’ll see those small, independently-owned businesses downtown again, at least not in my lifetime.

And here’s a little déjà vu. Most of my generation remembers and occasionally visited a bar called Lukes. It was a biker dive bar that had music on the weekends. Oh the angst when Lukes closed and was taken over by an upscale deli (with some funding help by the Missoula Redevelopment Association). Missoula’s going yuppie, was the hue and cry, gentrification is ruining the downtown.

Of course other music venues appeared on the scene. Jays, the bar that the Loft is replacing, was one of them.

So maybe downtown is becoming too hip for its own good but please consider the alternatives, like a downtown that nobody wants to visit. Plus, there are parts of Missoula that are hurting the way downtown was in the 1980’s. A blighted Brooks Street comes to mind. Maybe that’s where the next Jays will pop up.

Things could be worse. Been to downtown Billings or Great Falls lately? You can fire a cannon down the main drag and not hit anyone. I’ll bet those cities would readily accept The Loft.

Would I join The Loft? Probably not. To borrow from Groucho Marx, I’d be suspect of any club that wanted me as a member. I also think my invitation was lost in the mail.

Do I want to see a downtown made up entirely of exclusive clubs, high-end boutiques and Aspen-like galleries? Of course not. But having lived through the years when downtown Missoula almost died, I’m not so quick to judge any business that wants to add its name to the roster of downtown Missoula players.

By Jamee Greer

(While many members of Missoula’s community enjoy the benefits of warm homes in the winter and luxuries like wireless internet access, we should remember that some others do not. Support Missoula’s homeless shelter, the Poverello. Donations can be made by clicking here, and those with spare time and tight budgets can volunteer by calling the Poverello’s Volunteer Coordinator, Frankie Feinstein, at 728-1809.)

I had no idea how popular this blog was until I made the original post. Between the fact that readership tripled on Monday and the almost two dozen people on campus who thanked me for writing the post, I’m still a little stunned.

I’m known for being sarcastic, but often only to get my point across—and usually regarding an injustice. When I sat down at the coffee shop last weekend to write this, I wanted to instigate discussion. I wanted folks to begin communicating about the ramifications we face, for better or worse, as our magnanimous city evolves.

Folks might say that’s idealistic, or that I’m just bitter over loosing my apartment to gentrification this fall. Truth be told, I’m a little of both. But I’d rather use that idealism and bitterness to focus my energy on social change in my twenties—rather than bottle it in until my seventies and regret that I hadn’t done something when I still could. My argument—and I assume the arguments of many others who commented on Missoula’s new social club—aren’t naïve or nostalgic. It’s a shared fear that the city we’ve embraced as home is changing and we’re at a precarious point where our voices, planning and politics will determine the future of Missoula.

Really what we have here is a fantastic social experiment in twenty-first century conversation, a community expressing their trepidations, frustrations and support for fellow Missoulians. We here at 4and20blackbirds thought it might be wise to do a follow up post and include clips of comments from the original entry for folks to use in furthering greater conversation.

“Let’s quit mourning the loss of Jays, go to a Poverello hosted Rock Raiser at the Badlander and move on with our lives.”


“I helped run Jay’s for the last three years of it’s existence. Jay’s was a lot of things. It was extremely dirty and worn down but it was also an amazing place that helped form some of the best local acts to ever play in this town.”

Colin Hickey

“But now there are other venues that can take its place and offer so much more, like the Badlander. The beat goes on!”

Rebecca, moderator, 4and20blackbirds

Continue Reading »

by Jamee Greer

It’s Saturday, the week before finals begins and boy do I need to catch up on my studies! So, I head downtown to Higgins Ave, laptop in my backpack, ready to caffeinate and hit the books. To my dismay, every coffee shop in town is packed to the brim with other caffeinated students, festively (eggnog lattes!) cramming before exams. And so it dawns on me: this is why Missoula needs a new place to hang out!

An extra living room downtown,” says United Way Executive Director, Susan Hay Cramer. “A great place to bring friends or bring your wife before or after dinner,” says Whitefish attorney, Chad Wold. A place where “the interior design is completely on the money, yet completely unpretentious.” I’m talking the “new Missoula.” Give me The Loft!

Virtually everyone I know has an opinion about it. Most All of my friends are frustrated—and many folks are disgustedwith this “new country club, without the golf…

$175 a month would sure pay for a lot of the things “new missoula” needs, you know, like heated sidewalks, valet parking or a performance art center (“oh my god oh my god Keith Urban!”)

But, I sure do have to agree with some of the new members: having that extra living room downtown sounds great! After being evicted from my old place in the Wilma Building so it could be converted into a luxury condominium, I sure could use that extra living room…

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