The Missoula City Council is ready to dive into the question of whether a controversial restoration and development project at Fort Missoula should be stopped, or allowed to proceed.
The proposal to renovate the old hospital has been a flash point for Fort Missoula's future since developer Max Wolf and his partners first unveiled their plans in late 2022.
Their idea is to renovate the crumbling Old Post Hospital and pay for the project by adding 16 adjacent residential units on the surrounding five acres.
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Last spring, the Missoula Historic Preservation Commission denied Wolf and his partners an HPP, or Historical Preservation Permit. Wolf is appealing that decision with the city council finally set to hear the appeal this evening.
Wolf answers questions during a tour last year; Dennis Bragg photo
Wolf answers questions during a tour last year; Dennis Bragg photo
Groups backing the project hope the council will hear their arguments about the project's impact on the historic nature of the fort, riparian areas, and locations that were important to area tribes.

Groups worry about impacts

Thula Wiesel with the Historical Fort Missoula Coalition says the groups welcome the restoration proposal, but feel there are ways to approach it without the residential component.
"There is funding to restore and rehabilitate buildings like this," Wiesel notes. "If the developer would choose to, he could look at such funding and decide to maybe reach out and work with organizations that could provide him with some guidance provided. But perhaps some avenues of funding."
Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

The developer sees the project remaining private sector

Wolf has noted the land is privately owned, and the partners are committed to private development.
"You know, there are small grants that are accessible throughout the state," Wolf said earlier. "But we believe that this should be a privately, privately funded project and that those smaller grants should be allocated to smaller projects that really need that money."
The city council will take comments tonight, but we aren't expecting a final decision until later this month.

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Gallery Credit: Mike Smith

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