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Helena seeking consultants to advise on economic development options

Posted at 5:59 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 17:34:53-05

HELENA — Helena city leaders are seeking partners to advise them, as they work on economic development efforts.

The city put out a request for proposals this week, asking for consultants to advise on development options. Leaders said they are open to responses from many types of firms.

The scope of work laid out in the RFP focuses on two main areas: Downtown Helena and the area around the former Capital Hill Mall site.

In the downtown area, one major effort will be to develop a “renewal vision” for areas like the south end of Cruse Avenue. Helena community development director Sharon Haugen said leaders have looked at converting some of the right-of-way around Cruse into housing, and they are interested in having a consultant assist with that idea.

“We want that person to help us develop a visualization plan and some basic schematics on how that could be best developed,” she said.

Leaders are also seeking proposals on ways to attract more investment into the downtown area.

“We know there are buildings that are underutilized, and we’re hoping that some private partnerships might come out of this – but also some private-public partnerships,” said Haugen.

In the area around the mall site, the city is looking to create an urban renewal district. That would allow the city to set aside some of the property taxes collected there for redevelopment projects.

Haugen said the district could extend beyond the mall site itself.

“We hope to get some ideas not only about the redevelopment of the mall itself, but also the whole general area,” she said.

The city has already created urban renewal districts in the Sixth Ward and railroad area and in Downtown Helena. Haugen said they also had assistance from consultants on those projects.

The city will accept proposals through Nov. 27. Leaders say they hope to select the top respondents and negotiate agreements with them by the end of the year.

“We have a lot of hopes,” said Haugen. “We’re hearing a lot of people have a lot of ideas for redevelopment, so this is the next step in that process.”

You can find more information about the request for proposals on the city website.