[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 3-2-11
geoffb at ism.net
Thu Mar 3 14:17:59 MST 2011
You and I spent too many years in bureaucracy if these are the best terms we
can come up with! Somebody find a poet to give us a better way to describe
"density" and "compact development."
From: G Alex Taft [mailto:galextaft at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 1:41 PM
To: Geoff Badenoch
Cc: Tim Skufca; Bob Jaffe; missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 3-2-11
I like "compact development" rather than "density." "Density" has a Chicago
public housing ring to it.
Sent from my iPad
On Mar 3, 2011, at 8:35 AM, "Geoff Badenoch" <geoffb at ism.net> wrote:
Once again, Tim and I find our viewpoints converge. I have always held that
key parts of the community development discussion went off track when the
things became centered around DENSITY/Anti-Density. Density done poorly is
what to avoid. Density done well benefits the community and the
neighborhood. Who would embrace density done poorly? Only the people who
make money from it. Give me a developer who knows how to make money from
doing density well any day. It is more difficult and requires
thoughtfulness, but with the right cooperation from the public and private
sector, it can be done.
As for Russell, I agree it is better to proceed correctly, but we must work
more deliberately at proceeding. My mother used to tell her children, "You
can't go anywhere in neutral but downhill."
From: missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com
[mailto:missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com] On Behalf Of Tim Skufca
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 7:18 AM
To: Bob Jaffe
Cc: <mailto:missoulagov at cmslists.com> missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 3-2-11
Bob, et al:
The conflict on Catlin is difficult only because there is a well organized
neighborhood voice opposed, vs. much to support upzoning. I was certainly in
the minority in my support for OPG's recommendation (as a Planning Board
I judge the issues put before us on the Planning Board by reviewing the
project in light of the Ten Principals to Smart Growth. Every single
Principal was invoked here:
1. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
2. Create walkable neighborhoods
3. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration
4. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of
5. Make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective
6. Mix land uses
7. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical
8. Provide a variety of transportation choices
9. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
10. Take advantage of compact building design
I recently applied for an opening at Mountain Line and as I left the
building I realized that if I got the job I would not be able to use the bus
service to get to work because of the hours of operation. It's with DENSITY
that will allow extended hours of service. It's with DENSITY that the
pressure upon the farmlands on the periphery can be reduced , it's with
DENSITY that enables a neighborhood to be viable, livable, and walkable.
DENSITY is how an urban environment can build efficiently, with energy
One of the biggest concerns from the neighbors was based on how
difficult parking/traffic is already, mostly due to Sussex school events. It
is a bad precedence to allow the automobile to dictate our neighborhoods. We
should be wise enough to plan beyond the automobile in our urban core. Which
brings me to comment on Russel St: it is better to delay than to proceed
incorrectly. This corridor will have a tremendous affect on the livability
of the neighborgood. Let's do it right.
On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 9:43 PM, Bob Jaffe <
<mailto:BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us> BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us> wrote:
The main item for me today was the rezone request for 217 Catlin Street.
http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5591 This is the property
across the street from the housing authority project on Catlin behind the
Good Food Store. The parcel runs the full width of the block between Catlin
and Garfield. The current zoning allows for 16 units per acre at a height of
35 feet. The developer is requesting to rezone the property to 43 units per
acre at 45 feet. It is a 2+ acre parcel that could yield about 94 units at
the proposed density. The developer's stated intention is to build a complex
of multi-family buildings with a total of 72 one bedroom units.
As one may expect, the neighbors to the project are unhappy. They say that
they welcome development of the parcel, but not at two or three times the
currently allowed zoning. Unhappy is probably an understatement. Some of
them are passionately displeased.
This is the first controversial development proposal we have seen in quite
some time. Possibly it's a good omen for the economy.
The issues are that we have various growth policies and transportation plans
and visions for the future that all promote the virtues of infill and
compact development near the urban core in proximity to services. But where
is the limit? A few years ago we approved the UFDA plan (Urban Fringe
Development A??). This document built off the premise that the historical
growth in Missoula has been about 2% per year. So if we project out the next
20 years or so we figure we need so many additional units to be constructed.
Then through some semi-scientific process figure out how many of those units
should be absorbed in each section of town. Then we can look at the zoned
potential of parcels that currently have an assessed land value that exceeds
the assessed improvements value. This represents readily developable land.
In this particular section, Russell to Reserve, the zoned potential of
developable land can hold twice the number of units that we anticipate
needing. So one may question why we would even consider allowing such a
dramatic upzone when the current zoning supports adequate development for
our long term growth plans.
What we are being told is that even though the zoning density supports our
growth plans, it does not support the cost of development. The developer's
representatives, Jamie Hoffman and Ken Jenkins, told us that you can not
build at 16 units per acre and make money. Jamie said that of the nearly 30
multi-family projects he has been involved in over the years only a few have
been less than 20 units/acre. Generally they get built in commercial zones
not encumbered by density limits.
If this is indeed the case, then we have a bit of a problem. I know we have
gone over this before but it has been a while. It would be nice if someone
in the development community could do a little presentation on the economics
of real estate development. Here are my wild ass guesses on this project:
$400,000 for the land. I would hope there is some economy of scale when
building something like this so lets say $90 per foot. 72 one bedroom units.
Let's guess 500 feet each. That comes to $3,640,000. Round it up to $4
million with parking, landscaping, and whatever else may be involved.
Then you figure brand new one bedroom units will rent for something like
$600. So that works out to $518,400 per year in income at full occupancy.
Take out $75,000 in management and maintenance and you get $443,400 in
income per year. Does that pencil for a $4,000,000 investment? I'm not sure.
When a developer looks at a project and says that doesn't pencil, they must
be using some rough numbers like I just did. It seems like this is the sort
of thing we should be privy to as policy makers. From what we are being
told, our policy is based on a reality that no longer exists in this
community. I think we need to get to the bottom of this.
The public hearing on the rezone will be Monday night.
In other news, we heard an update from the fire department on all that they
do. They have concerns about loss of grant money but all is well. We also
approved a project to improve the pedestrian crossings into the University
and had a lengthy discussion about proposals from the Bike Pedestrian board.
The most actionable amongst them a request to form a subcommittee to develop
options for how we will finance sidewalk projects in the future.
Thanks for your interest,
Missoula City Council Ward 3
1225 South 2nd West
Missoula, MT 59801
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