When Robert Rivers and Fernanda Krum started looking for a space to start a new Missoula brewery called One Nation, they went downtown. They found a spot on Alder Street, just west of the Double Front, but couldn’t quite make it work despite five months of trying; rent and renovations would have been too expensive. The couple expanded their search and ended up at an unlikely location: a used car lot on a busy stretch of West Broadway.
On June 9, the Missoula City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit that will allow Rivers and Krum to transform 1151 West Broadway into a brewery designed to foster “social change and community transformation.” To that end, the couple’s plans for the site include not just a taproom but also a designated space for community meetings, classes and workshops. They hope to develop programs to benefit various local organizations, including the Poverello Center, which is building its new shelter across the street.
Rivers and Krum aren’t the only ones who see the brewery’s potential to initiate change. Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, thinks One Nation will help transform West Broadway from a busy commercial stretch into a thriving extension of downtown’s core.
“It’s past time for downtown to jump Orange Street,” Buchanan says, “and development of Riverfront Triangle will make that happen.”
The Riverfront Triangle Urban Renewal District extends between Broadway and the Clark Fork, and it abuts another urban renewal district known as Urban Renewal District II. These districts are areas where the city can leverage tax revenue to generate development. That leverage was key to One Nation’s ability to pursue the site on West Broadway.
Using urban renewal district funding, MRA is planning to transform a currently unoccupied river island into a new park where swimmers, tubers, kayakers and surfers will congregate. That park is just steps away from where One Nation will eventually open. When it does, it will presumably help drive customers to the brewery. At the same time, the park will create increased need for public parking in the area. To meet that need, One Nation has agreed to sell part of its parking lot to the city. The funds from the sale will help the owners develop the property. Buchanan says it was “a match made in heaven.” Rivers calls it “uncanny.”
Rochelle Glasgow, president of the Westside Neighborhood Association, is also optimistic about the arrangement. “Instead of used car lots and shabby hotels,” she says, “we want to see thriving businesses come in which will create a better neighborhood and then better businesses and prosperity and values.”