More on the ongoing story about the City of Bozeman’s sale of property slated for commercial development, located just north of town off N 7th.
Terms of the North Park Sale Released
Jason Bacaj, Chronicle Staff Writer – March 20, 2014
The city of Bozeman has agreed to sell its North Park property to two locally based companies for $1.28 million, pending City Commission approval Monday night.
The owners of the two companies that partnered to buy the property, Micropolitan Enterprises and Powder River Co., declined to comment on their plans for developing the property, said Jason Leep, the sales associate with ERA Landmark Real Estate who represents the two companies.
The purchase price is less than half of what the city originally paid for the property in 2003 and about a quarter of the $5.25 million the city has spent on the property over the past decade. But the city’s economic development director, Brit Fontenot, contends the sale is the right long-term solution to the question of what to do with the troubled 85-acre property west of North Seventh Avenue and between Interstate 90 and the railroad.
It gets the property back on the tax rolls, increases the value of the tax increment finance district covering the property and could result in a more diverse array of businesses in town and create new jobs, Fontenot said.
“It’s right because it closes the door on what has been a problematic piece of property for a long time. Hopefully it starts to write a new chapter on how the property will benefit the community,” Fontenot said. “There are things to think about in the here and now, and there are things to think about for the next five, 10, 15 years.”
Fontenot also said now that the property’s appraised value of $850,000 is public knowledge, it’s unlikely the city will receive an offer more than $1.28 million.
“There are consequences to doing nothing even though doing nothing seems like the easy thing,” he said. “It doesn’t come without a bit of hand wringing because of what happened with that property over time.”
Fontenot also said more than $1 million from the sale would go toward the city’s efforts to fix and monitor the old landfill site. Currently the city is applying for a $2.14 million loan to design and install a system to stop gases from seeping from the site.
The city bought North Park in 2003 for $3 million with the intent to use it as a garbage transfer station. That plan never came to fruition, however, and the property ended up costing the city more money when it was successfully sued by a local developer, who claimed the city undercut his plans to buy the land. The lawsuit ended when the city agreed to pay $2 million to its insurer. It’s scheduled to make a final payment of $675,000 to the insurer this summer. City commissioners unanimously voted to put North Park up for sale last August.
Part of the reason why city staff entered an agreement with the owners of Micropolitan and Powder River is that the two companies have a development plan for North Park, Fontenot said. The business owners would have an 18-month closing period to complete the necessary steps to complete the sale and begin developing the property.