March 31, 2019

City approves major development in northeast Bozeman
By Katheryn Houghton Chronicle Staff Writer
Mar 27, 2019
Bozeman’s historic northeast neighborhood is proud to be a place where industry, bakeries, artists and bike shops meet. This week, city commissioners approved the early designs to turn an unused lot into a major development that claims to capture that personality.
Thinktank Design Group is leading the six-building project on the roughly 2-acre site between Cottonwood Street and North Ida Avenue, which abuts the old Misco Mill. Plans outline 92 places to live built alongside artist studios and industrial space.
Thinktank co-owner Eric Nelson told commissioners during the Monday hearing the design focuses on creating a community where people can live and work without driving across town. “We want to create opportunities for artists to live and thrive,” Nelson said. “And really develop a design that contributes to the evolving character of this neighborhood, now and into the future.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary plan. Bangtail Partners LLC is listed in city documents as the property owners.
The largest building is three stories and includes 64 apartments with a walkway connected to 29,700 square feet of offices. There’s another 12-unit apartment building, a mixed-use building with artisan manufacturing alongside another 16 units. The plans also convert a 1930s grain warehouse into a restaurant. Designs leave the old mill as a focus point in outdoor public grounds as a tribute to the land’s history.
Some of the future homes will be for-sale while 46 units will be used as rentals. Seven of those apartments will be affordable, targeted toward people who make roughly 65 percent of the area’s median income.
Nelson said the designs aim to make for-sale commercial space and homes throughout the project attainable for people with paychecks that match the median income but who can’t keep up with Bozeman’s climbing prices.

ThinkTank began shaping the project in 2016. They brought those early plans before neighbors through a series of public meetings. The goal is to build the project in one phase.
The development received some relaxations. The buildings stop at three stories, though some of the designs exceed the city’s typical heights. The team also asked to create 200 parking spaces instead of the 255 its size and purpose calls for.
The project is a planned unit development, which falls out of Bozeman’s traditional rules, but developers have a chance to prove its worth. Those projects need to earn at least 20 “performance points.”
Commissioner Terry Cunningham broke down the chance for points into three categories: whether it’s affordable, sustainable and suitable to the area. He said with 58 points, the Cottonwood project went beyond city expectations. “I think they also established a new norm of what we would like to see in community conversations with neighborhoods,” Cunningham said.
Like many large projects, the Cottonwood and Ida development has some residents split. Bozeman Planner Brian Krueger said the city received nine comments against it and 11 in favor. “Interesting enough, character of the neighborhood shows up on both sides of the argument.” Krueger said.
It was a stacked agenda Monday night, though that didn’t keep people who neighbor the proposed project from waiting through the meeting to give their opinion. As the clock in the commission room passed 11 p.m., a handful of people formed a line for public comments.
Some said the development fits in well. Chris Nixon called the project one of the most innovative developments to hit Bozeman. He said while it may impede on his view of the mountains, its a good use of space in town. Some worried whether the building included enough parking while others said they weren’t against development, but the proposed project was too big. “I believe that this development will radically increase the population of our neighborhood and change the character greatly,” said Kristin Griffin.
Commissioners said change is hard, but added with the project six blocks from downtown and close to public transportation, Cottonwood and Ida is the right spot for the development.
Katheryn Houghton can be reached at or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.


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