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$13 million grant hits the bank; Missoula County to begin Mullan-area infrastructure

Nearly three years after Missoula County received word that it had won a federal infrastructure grant for the greater Mullan region, authorities announced Tuesday that the money was finally in their hands.

The $13 million BUILD award will be used to build the groundwork for creating a master-planned community that is estimated to generate 6,000 new dwelling units over the following two decades.

“This will be the most money we’ve ever spent on one location, essentially establishing another neighborhood that might easily be another town in Montana,” Commissioner Josh Slotnick said. “Unfortunately, we can’t just click our fingers and make everything happen right immediately.” It’ll take a long time.”

The region west of Reserve Street has had significant expansion in the previous 30 years and has been designated a potential site for future development.

Following the county’s receipt of the federal money in 2019, the Missoula City Council joined forces in 2020 to approve the Mullan Area Master Plan and remove Mullan’s name from the process. The neighborhood is currently known as Sxytpqyen.

The master plan will include around 6,000 additional housing units that will mix single-family, residential, and multi-family complexes. It was projected that just 300 single-family dwellings would be erected in the region without a plan.

In addition, the design plans for five walkable community centers feature a mix of retail, commercial, and professional space. It calls for six miles of additional pathways, the restoration of Grant Creek, and the establishment of a 40-acre urban farm. The whole area is around 1,800 acres.

However, as commissioners said on Tuesday, $13 million does not purchase what it used to, and the plan will be implemented in stages.

“This contributes to the installation of infrastructure that will allow the execution of the Sxytpqyen Master Plan,” stated Commissioner Dave Strohmaier.

The funds were received on Tuesday and will be used to finance two roundabouts at critical junctions on Mullan Road and the extension of George Elmer Drive to England Boulevard. It will also link Mary Jane Avenue to Broadway and extend England Boulevard to Flynn Lane.

Development in the region is already planned and is anticipated to begin once the infrastructure is in place. Other subdivisions are also in the works.

“We need locations for people to reside,” Slotnick said. “By constructing these roads, we open the door for private developers to come in and create residences and communities.” If they had to construct the roads, those residences would cost a lot more and take a lot longer to build.”