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Great Falls

Oct 24, 2013 3:02 PM by Tara Grimes (tara@krtv.com)

New partnership works to revitalize downtown Great Falls

GREAT FALLS - A fairly new organization, the Downtown Development Partnership, held an open house Wednesday night at the D.A. Davidson offices to share with the public what projects are going on downtown.

"The Downtown Development Partnership is all of the downtown organizations in one partnership," president Sheila Rice said. "That includes things like the Chamber of Commerce and the Great Falls Development Authority that have interest downtown, but serve the entire city."

Rice said the Downtown Master Plan is the driving force behind the partnership, which outlines several goals residents want to accomplish in the downtown area. Rice said the alliance will also serve other purposes.

"The City of Great Falls has formed a Tax Increment Financing District in this area, so the Development Partnership will act as the advisory board for the best use, the most efficient use, of TIF dollars," Rice said.

Rice also said the organization has also applied to become a non-profit. This would allow them to provide charitable letters to those who support them.

Developer Garry Hackett is just one member who said he sees the need to revitalize downtown Great Falls. Since the 1970's apartments in the Margaret Building downtown have sat vacant, but Hackett is working to turn the empty space into 13 vibrant living areas.

"It'll bring residents downtown to live, give them nice housing downtown and then they'll spend more money downtown which helps brings life back to Great Falls," Hackett said.

Hackett is like many of the members of the Downtown Development Partnership who want to see more living areas and businesses downtown. By working as one unified group, Rice said she believes projects will continue gaining traction.

"I say that downtown is an ascendancy," Rice said. "It's on the runway, it's gaining lift off, and we're going. Downtown is really a cool place to be."

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