On Jan. 15, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency agreed to give a Utah-based developer $66,000 to help it open a new Starbucks location off of Brooks Street.
If all goes as planned, the Wadsworth Development Group will use $40,800 of the money to demolish the old gas station at the corner of West Central Avenue and Brooks, while $21,000 will go toward new sidewalks and $4,800 to landscaping the right of way.
The funds come from a pot of cash set aside through property tax assessments to eradicate blight in central Missoula. In an effort to improve the neighborhood’s overall livability, the Missoula City Council designated the area along Brooks Street an urban renewal district in 2000.
MRA Director Ellen Buchanan notes that council’s directive is a work in progress. “If you go up to the ‘M,’ it’s not hard to spot urban renewal district III,” she says. “It’s the big gray blob in the middle of Missoula.”
That’s why Buchanan is excited that Wadsworth is coming to town. The new Starbucks, she says, will constitute a vast improvement over the dilapidated gas station that now sits on the half-acre parcel between Taco del Sol and Ruby’s Cafe. “It’s nothing but block walls on three sides,” she says. “It’s not contributing at all to the type of change that we want to see.”
Wadsworth’s building design plans call for a 1,920-square-foot Starbucks with a drive-through window and an outdoor patio. The total project costs, including land acquisition, are estimated at $1,258,163.
While deliberating the merits of Wadsworth’s funding request, MRA noted that the Brooks Street Starbucks is expected to employ 17 people and that five of those positions will be full-time. City coffers, meanwhile, will receive roughly $6,400 in additional annual property tax revenue.
Buchanan notes that Starbucks' anticipated arrival to Brooks Street comes as the city makes gains toward transforming the area into an architecturally attractive environment that’s also increasingly pedestrian and bicycle friendly. MRA made a significant commitment to that effort when agreeing last year to help pay costs associated with construction farther south on Brooks Street of a new Kohl’s department store and Cabela’s Outpost. For that project, the city committed $1.8 million to demolish the former Kmart building, install new sidewalks, landscape and undergo a complete overhaul of the Dore and Brooks intersection.
The new Starbucks is expected to open in June.