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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Helena, Mt. Urban Renewal Efforts

THE GUARDIAN took a road trip to Helena, Montana to visit some family members and get out of town for a few days.  Helena is a town of about 30,000 people and most of the economy is ranching and agricultural along with Carrol College in town. 

We were most impressed with how the execution of the Urban Renewal efforts created a downtown area that the people of Helena are drawn to live, work and play.

Most of the work was done years ago but the effects of a strategically planned end result are evident today.  Like Boise, Helena was a city that had to destroy itself and start over.  First they did a survey of the downtown buildings and determined which were good and which had to be demolished.  The used their Urban Renewal cash to buy buildings and either demolish them and practically give the land away to developers who would make the risk investment in Helena.  Or they would buy the property worth salvaging and mark it to market or less to get a developer to come in and rework the building and bring it up to modern codes.

What is remarkable is most of the old buildings now have businesses on the first floors, offices on the second floors and condominiums on the third and higher floors.  There is more than ample parking at a cost of $0.25/half hour if you can't find a free place to park.  The Urban Renewal project in Helena was done for a little over $50 million when all the bills and costs were tabulated.

 Folks in Caldwell and Nampa on the UR boards could learn from this very fine example of how Urban Renewal should be administered.

Montana Legislature meets every other year for a 90 day session.  Less time and opportunity for mischief.  A section in the capitol is called the wailing wall room where the lobbyists hang out.

1 comment:

  1. I too have been to Helena and they did a great job with their downtown revitalization. Too bad Caldwell can't seem to get this figured out.


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