Downtown 

Rumor plans revealed

On July 12, John and Colleen Powers, former owners of the Ranch Club, asked Missoula officials to begin evaluating their proposal to build a four-story building at the corner of Main and Pattee. The new structure would include, among other things, a bar, casino and restaurant.

"We have sent it out for adjacent property owner notification," says Mary McCrae of Missoula Development Services. "Comment is being taken."

Until last spring, John and Colleen Powers owned the Ranch Club, a high-end residential golf community off Mullan Road. In 2012, a First Interstate Bank-operated limited liability company called FIRC assumed ownership of the embattled development. A First Interstate Bank spokesperson told the Independent that the Ranch Club property is now for sale.

When reached by phone, John Powers hesitated to discuss the new downtown proposal, noting it's too early in the process. "We don't own the property... Nothing is final," he says.

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According to the couple's request for a conditional use permit—a prerequisite to opening the tavern and casino at 202 East Main St.they intend to open "'Rumor Restaurant and Bar'...(It) will be a vibrant, contemporary, approachable dining destination specializing in a blend of world cuisine, and will include a premium all-alcoholic beverage selection..."

On the second, third and fourth floors, the new structure would serve commercial and residential purposes. A rooftop garden would adorn the building, according to the permit request, "with herbs and vegetables to support sustainability of our restaurant."

If the project evolves as proposed, the building would be constructed atop land that once housed Birdwatchers Country Store, one block off Higgins Avenue. It's now mostly used for parking and, according to Missoula County records, is held by KDJ Properties.

On Aug. 21, Missoula's Land Use and Planning Committee will vet the couple's application for conditional use permits enabling them to operate a tavern and casino. On Aug. 26, their proposal goes before the Missoula City Council.

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