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Downtown Billings housing developments underway



Billings, Montana – Several developments that are located directly in the center of the city have been announced by the Downtown Billings Alliance. Housing development in the area is the main goal of these projects.

Something the alliance realizes is seriously lacking downtown, according to the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Katy Easton who said, ” we know that downtown billings have a pretty significant housing shortage, that’s a trend that you will see across the country,” Easton continued “but we can really focus on downtown and say that due to several housing studies that we have done over the years, we could add 1,000 housing units right now if we could just snap our fingers and have the units be on the market, and that would just start to meet the need and demand for the people who want to live downtown.”

For the past few years, the Downtown Billings Alliance board has been committed to assisting these housing initiatives.

An iconic project is the former Billings Hardware building. The complex will remain intact on the outside, but its interior will be completely renovated to accommodate 27 flats. The Alliance states that the project should be finished by the summer of 2025. The location of the antique store YesterYears will eventually become Futurity Towers; construction is scheduled to begin in early 2025.

Zest, a retailer of kitchenware next door, expresses excitement for the future while lamenting the departure of YesterYears from what they refer to as retail row.

The owner and operator of Zest, Marguerite Jodry, told us they, “purchased our building with the idea that we wanted to be in Downtown Billings Forever, but to have a successful business downtown we need to see downtown continue to grow and one of the most important ways that downtown is growing is through housing.”

housing similar to the 12-story apartment complex that Zest will soon occupy. Jodry is fully aware of the potential effects the upcoming construction next door may have on her store, but she is certain that the inconvenience of the dust and noise will eventually be worthwhile.

At N. 23rd Street and 1st Avenue North, work has already begun on the Old Town Flats project. By this summer, the building will have 36 flats, and construction on phase two—which will add 36 more units to the development—will start. In addition, some renters occupy the first renovated rooms at the Lincoln Apartments, a project to renovate the former women’s and children’s shelter run by Montana Rescue Mission.

And all this work by the alliance has a big-picture approach according to Easton who says that “every piece of work that we do is geared to bring people downtown to make downtown a place that is vibrant and welcoming, someplace that people want to be.”

She continued, “when we talk about why that’s important and having people down here, you look at the conversation in our community is focusing on public safety, and one of the pieces that we like to talk about when we talk about public safety is that if you really want to address it in our opinion and expertise and experience, there are other things that you need to address to make actual change happen in the world of public safety and that change for us, is housing.”

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