Burns Street Center
Burns Street Center community reinvestment project in Missoula, Montana
The Project: Burns Street Square is a community reinvestment project led by the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC) which was developed on 1.75 acres of underutilized land in a very low-income neighborhood in Missoula, Montana. The lot was formerly used as a parking and dock area for a 60 year old derelict motor freight warehouse.
History: In 2005, when NMCDC purchased the lot, neighborhood children played in the packed dirt, weedy lot filled with broken glass. The 13,000 square foot warehouse was extremely unsafe – broken windows, leaky roof – and heavily vandalized.
Today: Today, the weedy lot has 17 community land trust (CLT) homes, both townhomes and flats, and the warehouse has been converted to a food hub and community center for the neighborhood. 14 units were sold to households with 80% of Area Median Income or below and 3 units were sold at market rate. Three food businesses are thriving in the renamed B Street Center: the Missoula Community Food Co-op, a member-owned for-profit consumer food cooperative; a separately owned for-profit café with commissary kitchen rentals for off-premises food vendors; the Burns Street Bistro; and, a food aggregation site for the multi-county Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC). The B Street Center community space also houses community meetings, a summertime afternoon Kids Program that provides free food and activities for latch-key kids, free community dinners, and a communal nutrition and cooking program for neighborhood families.
Funding: Federal – USDA Rural Development, Community Development Block Grant, EPA Brownfield Monies. Private – 2 Private Foundations, local grants and donations.
Impact: The businesses and services at Burns Street Center serve the immediate neighborhood, which houses many of the city’s lowest income residents. The Missoula Consolidated Plan update indicated Burns Street Square block grouping is, in aggregate, 70–80% LMI (Local Median Income). This total area has a median household income that is approximately $7,000 less than the rest of Missoula. The incidence of households receiving public assistance is twice as high there as in the city as a whole. The reinvestment project – the construction of the new homes and the rehab of the warehouse – was a $5.5 million dollar investment in the neighborhood. In a series of neighborhood surveys conducted over a ten-year period, need for commercial services were identified as goals of a City of Missoula-adopted neighborhood plan. The project has brought community services to an area that hadn’t attracted significant business capital because of the lack of affluence in the neighborhood. As a result of the project, 30 jobs have been created in the last 3 years, and 35 farms in the Western Montana Grower’s Co-op have been supported.