BILLINGS, Mont. – The now vacant Billings Hardware Company building (Montana Avenue and Broadway) is being renovated into a mixed-use building with apartments and business space.
Victoria Hill and the City of Billings said the renovation will cost $7.4 million. Billings City Council voted unanimously on Monday, September 12 to approve a request for $745,000 in tax increase funding to help cover renovation costs.
Downtown Billings Partnership development director Mehmet Casey said the building has been empty for about 25 years. It was built in 1908.
He said the renovations will include updating electrical work and fire suppression.
He said there were 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments for rent on the first and second floors. The rental price for an apartment has not yet been completely decided, but it will probably be around $1,100-1,400 per month. The ground floor and the basement will be available for businesses to rent.
“Probably, once it becomes news and public, they’ll probably fill it in before they’re even conceived,” he said. “Because everything else we have in the city center is in demand and has a waiting list of usually up to 50 people. There’s a lot of demand. This will meet some of that demand, but there’s definitely needs more.”
Casey also said having people in the building again would make the area safer.
“Vacancies like this could attract things like graffiti, tagging, illegal occupancy if someone decided to break in and walk in,” Casey said. “It could burn. There’s a lot of things that could happen that aren’t good.”
Once you fill that building with residents, businesses, visitors and customers of those businesses, you add a lot of footprint density to that building,” he added. “Which provides what they call it a “natural improvement in surveillance security” because people are getting in and out. There are many eyes on the street. There are also a lot of people buying into the building. It’s their property.”
Casey said renovations will begin this fall and take about a year and a half.