MISSOULA – Missoula County Public School leaders believe they’ve found the money needed to re-purpose the former Missoula College into a new administrative center.
Ever since the Montana University System moved Missoula College operations to the new campus in Hellgate Canyon, MCPS has been working on a plan to make use of the buildings and campus off South Avenue — and now it appears they’ve been able to solve at least part of the puzzle.
“We re-acquired the Missoula College Property when they relocated to their new facility on East Broadway. And we’ve had to do significant asbestos abatement. We need to do some renovation prior to the time we can occupy,” MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane said.
“And we felt really strongly that we did not want to go the taxpayers in order to identify the revenue stream to accomplish those improvements. So we’re looking at our building funds, our rental proceeds and of course proceeds from the sale of property to hopefully accomplish the work we need to do without going to the taxpayers,” he added.
The latest development is the sale of what’s called the “Homevale” property, a pie-shaped piece of land also on South Avenue just up the street from Sentinel High School.
This week trustees approved the sale of that land to BlueLine Development, a Montana-based real estate company whose primary focus has been on affordable housing.
The sale will net MCPS $850,000 which can then be used for renovating the “Missoula College” campus. Thane says the money will allow the district to go into the building here and take care of all those details that will make it a functional space once again.
“Yes, it’s a very dated facility. We need to bring it up to code. We need to make sure it’s a safe facility and has good ventilation, good heat, etc,” Thane explained. “So we’re excited about the prospect of forward, and hope to bring the plans forward to the board and go out to bids in relatively near future.”
The deal is part of Thane’s initiative over the past year to identify and sell properties the district has no intention using, consolidating those holdings and putting the dollars to good use.
“We would relocate those offices from the 6th Street Administration Building, our business services from this building, our Indian Education Office, our Fine Arts Department, our Library Media Services, Special Education Services, all into the new facility,” Thane told MTN News.
With the money in hand, the district will now be able to figure out what work can be covered, and how much more might be needed to renovate the old campus.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News