A group of local investors has applied to build two rows of four-story duplexes containing up to 40 homes on an entire city block downtown.
HomeBase of Bozeman and investors have applied to the city Planning Department to build “Block M.”
The proposed project is located just north of Main Street on the 1-acre block bordered by East Lamme Street, North Black Avenue, East Beall Street and North Tracy Avenue.
Kenyon Noble Lumber Co. currently owns the site. It is situated behind the old Kenyon Noble store and contains three single-family homes and a parking area.
The application for Block M, named for the area’s designation on Bozeman’s original townsite plat, proposes two rows of vertical duplexes with 20 to 40 housing units and a central, shared driveway that accesses enclosed parking for each home. The buildings would be made of wood, concrete and metal and the roofs would contain shared garden space and covered sitting areas.
“The design concept is inspired by the diagram of traditional row houses or brownstones,” the application states.
Each home would contain a lower level space that could be used as a separate leasable apartment, a home office, guest quarters, or an expansion of the living space, depending on individual owners’ preference.
In order to build the development, the three homes on the property would be demolished. As part of the proposed removal plan, the applicant would explore relocating and salvaging the homes. Two of the homes contribute to a historic district. A neighboring home has been torn down.
“In terms of historical significance, 201 and 207 N. Black Ave., were designated as ‘contributing’ by the 1984 Montana Historical and Architectural Inventories. 15 E. Lamme was designated as ‘neutral,’” the application states. “Note that a large residential structure, 3 E. Lamme St., was removed in 1986.”
The developer, HomeBase, has worked on other Bozeman subdivisions such as the recently approved project, The Crossing at Baxter Meadows, on the west side of town and Southbridge, in southwest Bozeman, according to Rob Pertzborn, representative for HomeBase and principal at Intrinsik Architecture of Bozeman.
Intrinsik is designing Block M. Andy Holloran of Bozeman is listed on the application as the contact for HomeBase and the investment group.
“(Holloran) is thrilled to be a part of the project,” Pertzborn said. “But it’s never just one party.”
Pertzborn said the investment group and the current landowners, the Ogle family of Kenyon Noble, care deeply about what happens on the property.
If approved, construction is expected to start late this summer, Pertzborn said, and would be completed in phases over several years. Building would begin on the southwestern side of the site. The north side would be completed last.
Brit Fontenot, city director of economic development and community relations, said the Block M proposal fits with the city’s goals.
Block M would be an “infill” project, meaning it involves redevelopment in the city center rather than suburban sprawl — new development of vacant land in outer lying areas, Fontenot said.
“You’re adding people to a center of commerce and so you’re providing opportunities for those businesses in the downtown to have more customers right at their doorstep,” he said. “More people to come and go from restaurants and bars, and basically continuing to add vibrancy to what is the heart of Bozeman.”
Bozeman’s Downtown Improvement Plan, adopted by the City Commission in 2009, specifically calls for construction of hundreds of more residential units downtown and widening the downtown core to the north and south.
Fontenot said the Block M project should be ready for the City Commission to review sometime this spring. He said city staff in the engineering, planning and building department met with the developers early on in the process to help them present a project that city officials would be likely to accept.
“The city is coordinating and really trying to work with these projects,” he said. “We think we can save them time and money, and offer good advice on the front end.”
Fontenot said the application didn’t appear to contain any proposals that would cause major snags in the approval process.
“I didn’t get the impression there were any major difficulties we couldn’t overcome,” he said.