6th Ward Railroad District
The City of Helena is partnering with an experienced planning consultant to complete a neighborhood level plan for the city’s historic 6th Ward Railroad District (also known as Midtowne). The project area will generally follow the URD located there and will likely also include some adjacent areas. The area has been the subject of several planning efforts over the years so an emphasis of this effort will be on implementation and potential funding sources. This effort will be overseen by the City’s Community Development Department staff and adopted as addendum to the 2019 Growth Policy and by both the City/County Planning Board and the City Commission.
The consultant hired for the project, SCJ Alliance, knows Helena well. They produced Helena’s 2019 growth policy. SCJ Alliance has a track record of innovative and inclusive public engagement and the City is excited to see how the public process impacts the project’s direction.
This project is on pace to begin in October and will advertise through the city’s Public Information Officer any upcoming public events or other input opportunities.
Downtown Neighborhood Plan
The Downtown Helena Master Plan is the story of a grassroots effort to define, understand, and capture opportunities for the Downtown and the greater Helena community. The Master Plan is an exciting glimpse into the future, and will help Downtown Helena build on past success, leverage its unique sense of place, and prepare for new opportunities to achieve the best potential for this magnificent place.
Below are links to the Downtown Neighborhood Plan and its related appendices.
Cruse Avenue Revisioning
The City, in its efforts to increase economic development opportunities in the Downtown District are seeking to transform one of its most underutilized assets. The Cruse Avenue corridor. In its present form, Cruse Avenue has existed since the Urban Renewal era and was originally envisioned as a bypass from Highway 15 to downtown. This vision was never realized and the remnants are an under utilized and overbuilt downtown right-of-way.
The goal of this significant economic development project is to activate this corridor, remake and revision it seamlessly into the existing downtown district. To provide an amenity to the residents of Helena and Lewis and Clark County as well as an asset to the Downtown District.
As we move through the process, we will house all documents created and information gathered through the public process. For more information regarding this project, please contact the Community Development Department at email@example.com or call (406) 447-8490.
The City of Helena's Planning Division hosted public meetings via the Zoom Virtual Meeting platform on the following dates to discuss the Redevelopment of Cruse Avenue. Recordings of these meetings can be found on our City's YouTube channel.
Downtown Urban Renewal Districts & Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Intent & Area
On October 29, 2018, the Helena City Commission approved the establishment of the Downtown Urban Renewal District (DURD), with final passage of Ordinance 3242, creating the district, establishing its boundaries, and formally adopting the Downtown Urban Renewal District Plan, inclusive of a tax increment provision in accordance with state statute (MCA 7-15-42 and 7-15-43). The DURD Plan set forth the following district goals to guide redevelopment within the downtown:
- Build a Cohesive Downtown Identity
- Add to Downtown Vibrancy with a Mix of Uses
- Upgrade Underperforming Properties
- Invest in the Public Infrastructure Needed to Attract Development
- Promote Historic Preservation to Create a Quality and Unique Experience
The district was originally established with boundaries generally located east of Benton and Park Avenues, west of Warren and Jackson Streets, and south of Lyndale Avenue, including Centennial Park north of Lyndale. The boundary was subsequently amended on November 18, 2019 to incorporate the Rodney Street area (generally located between 6th Street and Pine Street from Rodney, to the edge of the original district boundary on Warren Street), with the final passage of Ordinance 3275(PDF, 121KB) .
In early 2020, the Montana Department of Revenue certified taxable property valuations for the establishment of the Tax Increment Financing provision for the district, which was followed by the creation of the Downtown TIF Advisory Board. The Board is comprised of 14 members, ranging from residents and landowners to business sector representatives and non-profit and education sector representatives. The Board is tasked with completing annual work plans, reports, evaluations, and budgets and making recommendations for allocation of TIF funding and any future amendments to the Downtown Urban Renewal District Plan.
DURD Tax Increment Financing Opportunities
Applications are being sought for review by the Downtown TIF Advisory Board for eventual consideration for approval by the City Commission on a biannual basis in the months of January and July with applications due by the end of December and June, respectively. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars are available for eligible projects that meet the goals of the DURD Plan that incentivize private development and promote a more vibrant downtown. Applications are being prioritized for TIF funding where they serve a public purpose and address one of the following, in alignment with the FY2023 Work Plan:
- Improve infrastructure;
- Serve site redevelopment needs of underutilized/underperforming properties;
- Activate public spaces;
- Create or retain affordable housing;
- Make façade improvements;
- Establish a marketing/branding plan;
- Assist in the redevelopment of Cruse Avenue; or
- Reinvigorate the Rodney Street Commercial Center.
Applicants may request up to fifty percent match (50%) funding for projects exceeding $10,000 or up to twenty-five percent match (25%) for projects equal to or less than $10,000. The TIF application form is provided below in the “Additional Information” section of this page. All prospective applicants are required to contact the City of Helena Community Development Department, 316 N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, (406) 447-8490, firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss the project and determine eligibility for TIF assistance prior to making an application to the city.
N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, (406) 447-8490, email@example.com, to discuss the project and determine eligibility for TIF assistance prior to making an application to the city.
- Installation of hand sanitizer stations throughout the Helena Business Improvement District in response to COVID-19 business needs (2020) COVID-19 Response Hand Sanitizer Installation Map(PDF, 464KB)
- Hill Park performance stage installation (2020) – Installation of a concrete stage pad in the park to assist in continued event programming in a safe, outdoor setting.
- HBID boulevard tree replacements along the 400 Block of Last Chance Gulch (2020) – Replaced all of the old tree to help beautify the commercial block.
- Placer Building Façade Improvements (2021) – Funding granted to replace the deteriorating French doors as a façade and safety improvement for the historic building’s tenants.
- Seeley Building and Dowling Architects Building Sidewalk Improvements (2021) – Match funding provider to property developers to install sidewalk and pedestrian amenity improvements for properties along Last Chance Gulch.
- Consistory Shrine Temple Feasibility Study (2021) – Funding was granted for a feasibility study on the former Ming Opera House and Helena Tractor and Power Building for future use of the structures owned by the Consistory Shrine Temple Association.
- B&B Market and Rodney Street Laundry Parking Lot Projects (2021) – Funding was provided to install parking lots in the Rodney Street commercial district.
- 317 Cruse Pedestrian & Landscaping Project (2022) – Funding was awarded to assist with the installation of an ADA access ramp and install xeriscaping along the corner of 6th and Cruse Avenues.
- Penwell Building Accessibility & Façade Improvements (2022) – Funding was awarded to assist with the exterior façade improvements, creating accessible entrances, installing an elevator, and retrofitting bathrooms to be accessible in the Penwell Building located at 34 W. 6th Avenue.
- Union Market Building Water & Sidewalk Infrastructure Improvements (2022) – Funding was granted to replace an aging lead water service line that serves six commercial units in an historic block located at 101 E. 6th Avenue as well as adjacent sidewalks along the building’s Jackson Street frontage.
Click Here to View TIF Project Map
For additional information on the Downtown Urban Renewal District, please contact the City Community Development Department, City of Helena, 316 N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, phone: (406) 447-8490, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Railroad Urban Renewal District
Intent & Area
The City of Helena established the Railroad Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in 2016, which roughly extends from North Last Chance Gulch east to Interstate I-15 and includes land for several blocks on either side of the railroad. The URD/TIF District's goals are to revitalize the area by improving economic vitality, creating jobs, and encouraging investment in targeted neighborhoods.
The City of Helena established a Railroad TIF Advisory Board in August 2017. The Board is comprised of 8 representatives of private businesses, property owners, and residents within the district, public associations and non-profits, the Helena School District, and Helena College. The Board is tasked with completing annual work plans, reports, evaluations, and budgets and making recommendations for allocation of TIF funding and any future amendments to the Railroad Urban Renewal District Plan.
RURD Tax Increment Financing Opportunities
The city is currently seeking applications for urban renewal projects within the RURD. Applications will be received on a rolling basis until available funds are expended, and each will be reviewed by the Board in the order received. Applications are due by the first of the month for consideration at that month’s regularly scheduled meeting held on the third Thursday of the month. Applications may address any of the following project priority areas, and may receive an award of up to 50% of the project’s cost:
- Infrastructural Needs
- RURD Sidewalk Projects
- Transportation Planning
- Demolition Program
- Development of a District Branding and Marketing Initiative that Reflects the Historic and Cultural/Economic Importance of the Area
If applications are found to be eligible, applicants will be informed in advance of the meeting time and location. The application and criteria for review are available in the Additional Information Section below as well as in the Community Development Department Office in Room 445, 316 N. Park Avenue. All prospective applicants are required to contact the City of Helena Community Development Department, 316 N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, (406) 447-8490, email@example.com, to discuss the project and determine eligibility for TIF assistance prior to making an application to the city.
- Midtown Industries Barn Demolition (2018) – Fifty percent match provided for the demolition of a blighted barn/storage structure along National Avenue.
- Ray Kuntz Development, LLC, Infrastructure Project (2019) – Fifty percent match provided for stormwater and sidewalk infrastructure improvements for non-profit commercial office space along Helena Avenue.
- Midway, LLC Parking Improvements (2021) – $25,000 granted toward accessible parking improvements for an approximately $500,000 rehabilitation of the commercial property located at 1200 N. Montana Avenue.
- Transportation Systems Dept. Sidewalk Improvements (2021) – Funding was awarded to the city for replacement of trip and fall hazards on existing sidewalks along Roberts Street and streets north of Lewis Street.
- Memorial Park Apartments Demolition (2022) – Approximately fifty percent match provided for the demolition and abatement of the blighted Memorial Park Apartments building located at 40 E. Lyndale to pave the way for future site redevelopment.
Click Here to View TIF Project Map
For additional information on the Railroad Urban Renewal District, please contact the City Community Development Department, City of Helena, 316 N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, phone: (406) 447-8490, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.