2023 Downtown Missoula Investment & Business Activity

2023 Downtown Missoula Investment & Business Activity

An Economic Hotspot to Live, Work and Play


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, net migration to Montana in 2023 grew by approximately 10,000 residents. Missoula saw its fair share of this migration and has become the second largest city in the state with a city population peaking over 75,000 residents. Missoula remains a place where people want to live, work and play, and Downtown is one of its primary attractions. Investment in Downtown has been significant over the last 10 years; however, the last two years have shown slower growth than the previous two years.

Commercial & Residential Investment (public & private) in Downtown Missoula 2019-2023:

2019 $625 Million $475 Million $32 Million Stockman Bank, ROAM, Sawyer, Toole Crossing, Russell Street
2020 $16 Million $42 Million $17 Million AC Hotel, the Wren, Clay Street, Good Habits, Villagio, Higgins Bridge
2021 $36 Million $30 Million $5 Million Providence, First Interstate Bank, Radio Central, Trinity
2022 $12.5 Million $7 Million $1 Million Holiday Inn, Boone & Crockett, Stockman Bank, OSD Townhomes
2023 $11.2 Million $913,000 $2.3 Million LOGE Camps, Providence, NS Pedestrian Bridge

Despite rising interest rates and difficulties with supply chain, investment in commercial property and transportation in Downtown Missoula totaled nearly $13.5 million in 2023. The largest projects include the massive overhaul of the Mountain Valley Inn to LOGE Camps, a major buildout of the Missoula County Elections Center, interior renovations at Providence St. Pat’s and Western Montana Mental Health Center, the Wyckman Building, and the development of the new restaurant connected to Cranky Sam. Smaller highlights include the buildout for Tosca Oils and Tres Bonne. An upgrade to the Northside Pedestrian Bridge, publicly funded by the City of Missoula, is the largest investment within the downtown core for 2023.

Residential investment declined significantly year over year with just over $900,000 vested in 2023. Residential investment in 2022 was dramatically higher at $6.6 million, primarily due to the Hogan Senior Living project at 230 S. 6th Street West and the yet-to-be-built 12 residential units on the 300 block of East Front Street. Highlights of 2023 include the completion of major housing developments adjacent to downtown, including the 400-unit Villago Apartment Complex on Scott Street, the completion of The Reed Condos, and the development of the townhomes in the Old Sawmill District. Most other private investments were minor remodels and roofing projects.

Business activity for 2023 took a turn from the previous year with 16 new business openings and 22 closings. In 2022 Downtown Missoula saw a record-high 34 business openings to just 7 closings. Movement in the food & beverage industry is most prevalent with ten (10) restaurants closing their doors in 2023. Staffing shortages, wages, and increasing food costs have been significant impacts for those in food & beverage.

Last year saw eight (8) businesses relocate to or expand within Downtown. Highlights include Cotner & Ryan Law Firm moving into the Stockman Bank Building, Morning Birds Bakery into the Bagels on Broadway space, and the Wipfli accounting firm moving into the Wyckman Building on North Higgins.

Downtown Missoula also saw seven (7) businesses relocate or expand out of Downtown Missoula. Highlights include the owners of Market on Front expanding their business with the opening of The Den at the top of Miller Creek, Birdie Thatcher moving to 2000 S. Higgins, and Mary’s Mountain Cookies opening a second location in Southgate Mall.

Seven (7) businesses saw a change of ownership in 2023. HomeBase Montana sold the Missoula Mercantile, Residence Inn by Marriott and AC Hotel to Evermore Partners. KornUtopia, Thirst Tea Boba Food Truck, and Pagoda Thai & Chinese also have new owners.

“2023 ended leaning towards business as usual,” communicated Business Development Director, Christine Littig, of the Missoula Economic Partnership. “Some businesses doing well, some not. Growth for some, not for others. No one single explanation answers the pressures and concerns of all industries.  Those of us working to support businesses continue to work harder than ever to understand how businesses are succeeding and how we can support businesses still navigating challenges.”

Downtown Missoula remains a hot market for commercial and residential development with several projects moving forward in the years to come:

  • The Old Sawmill District continues to implement its master plan and will embark upon warehouse apartments following the completion of the townhomes.
  • The former library site at 300 East Front Street will be a great opportunity for a mixed-used development project. The City of Missoula has brought on deChase Miksis and Edlen & Company as its development partner for the site.
  • The City of Missoula and Missoula County officially acquired the keys to the Federal Building in 2023 and hired a contractor to clean out the hazardous materials and renovate the building. When the newly-named John Engen Government Services Building is ready for occupancy, many Downtown office spaces and buildings will be available for sale or leasing.
  • Development of the former Missoulian building remains in the planning stages.
  • Construction is anticipated to start on the 12-unit condos on East Front Street in 2024.
  • Both the Doubletree Hotel and the Holiday Inn Downtown are continuing with major renovations.
  • The former site of the Sleepy Inn is on the market and ready for development.
  • Development of the Riverfront Triangle continues to be a challenge.

In 2023, the City of Missoula was also awarded a $25-million-dollar federal RAISE grant for five specific transportation projects in Downtown Missoula. This is the largest acquisition of public funding for Downtown Missoula in the last 50 years. Those projects include conversion of Front & Main to two-way streets, conversion of Higgins Avenue to a three-lane from Broadway to Brooks, new gateways to the riverfront parks, widening of the riverfront trail, and a new ADA ramp from the Beartracks Bridge to the waterfront trail.

For more information on the Downtown Investment and Business Activity, or to schedule an interview, contact the Downtown Missoula Partnership via phone (406) 543-4238 or email ([email protected]).

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