The City of Missoula and Missoula County are closer to taking over the old federal building downtown, with the idea of creating a brand new, joint government complex. 

Local government has been working on the acquisition of the former Missoula Post Office for the past several years. The federal government continued to use the building for a variety of offices for several years, but the course to give away the building was really set several years ago when the U.S. Forest Service moved its regional headquarters to Fort Missoula. 

The city and county have been interested in getting the building for "free" and using the space as a joint facility to solve the growing crunch for space for both jurisdictions. But getting the building converted isn't cheap. Some estimates placed that cost as high as $ 40 million, although that figure has been quoted much lower this year, down to less than $ 10 million. 

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Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Where the money comes from is still a major question in a community strapped by tight revenue and complaints over taxes. But city officials argue the consolidation of government offices and services into a single location could actually save money. 

This week, the city council approved the formation of a special "district" around the downtown building. That solves a technicality where the federal government couldn't turn the building over to both the county and the city. 

Next up will be a more complete assessment of how to configure the building for local use. 

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