(GREAT FALLS) It has been nine years since an iconic downtown Great Falls building went up in flames.
Since then, the Rocky Mountain Building has largely been untouched, but several groups are joining together to bring life back into the building.
NeighborWorks of Great Falls coordinator Sheila Rice says they are in the process of securing funding to be able to buy the Rocky Mountain Building.
"The Business Improvement District, which is funded by the property owners in downtown Great Falls, has agreed to purchase the building, and then re-sell it at a discount to NeighborWorks,” Rice said.
Rice says this will not happen until all of the financing is in place.
"This is the only building that is specifically mentioned in the Downtown Master Plan. When you look at that, it is something that everyone believes in and everyone wants to have happen,” Rice said.
Rice says the plan for the Rocky Mountain building is to have 47 apartments on the upper floors; 10 of them will be income-restricted.
"The main floor and the lower level will be commercial space and it could be any number of things from offices to retail. We are actually talking to people who might possibly in relocating here,” Rice said.
She continued, "The earliest we will know about some of our grants is January of 2019. Then two years of construction after that, so it is a slow process."
(MAY 15, 2018) The Great Falls Business Improvement District decided to join NeighborWorks of Great Falls to help revitalize one of Great Falls' iconic buildings.
NeighborWorks is currently in the process of applying for a grant with the Affordable Housing Program through the Federal Home Loan Bank. The grant will be used to remodel the Rocky Mountain Building, which has sat vacant since a fire in 2009. The grant is competitive so NeighborWorks asked BID if they would be willing to write a letter of intent to help buy the building.
The letter will state, if all the funding comes through, that BID will purchase the building and donate half of the building back to NeighborWorks.
NeighborWorks Executive Director Sherrie Arey said BID is a natural group to partner with for such a large project.
"With the fire that happened in 2009, and what it takes now to renovate or even to replace, is out of the realm of a lot of people's possibilities," Arey said. "Bringing a lot of the partners together and a lot of the people who are interested in the downtown economic development really makes it intriguing for us to be a part of that."
The $15 million renovation will include new retail opportunities and apartments. If everything goes as planned, work on the Rocky Mountain Building should start in April of 2019.