Bridger View Rendering

A rendering of the Bridger View neighborhood.

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Bozeman city commissioners have approved preliminary plans for a housing project east of Story Mill Community Park that’s meant to provide affordable housing.

The Bridger View Redevelopment neighborhood will include 63 houses over 8 acres south and west of the intersection of Bridger Drive and Story Mill Road. The Trust for Public Land donated the site to the Human Resource Development Council in 2019 and the nonprofit has taken over planning for development.

Tracy Menuez, associate director and community development director for HRDC, said there are a few more steps before construction can begin, but infrastructure improvements should start next spring. The first homes in the compact neighborhood are projected to be available in 2022.

The city commission Monday approved the preliminary plans unanimously. Commissioners will have to approve a final draft before construction begins.

Menuez said it’s a complex project because it aims to create not only affordable housing, but homes that are permanently affordable, well-designed and sustainable. She said the mixed-income neighborhood will have options for a variety of people.

“It’s something that can be in reach for lots of members of our community,” Menuez said.

Of the neighborhood’s houses, 31 will be sold at market rate, 26 will be sold between 80% and 120% of Bozeman’s median income rate and five homes will be sold at 70% of the area’s median income rate, or less, to meet the city’s affordable housing ordinance.

The neighborhood will also have one common house available for parties or guest lodging.

The homes priced below market value are meant to fill a need for those earning average incomes but who are still priced out of Bozeman real estate, like teachers, emergency services workers, city employees, retirees, young professionals and others, according to a news release from HRDC.

Half of the homes will be sold for private ownership. The other half will be in the hands of the Headwaters Community Housing Trust, a new, independent group that will oversee the properties to ensure they are sold at affordable prices in perpetuity and are well-maintained.

The houses will be scattered throughout the neighborhood and indistinguishable from others.

The homes will be built on lots ranging between 1,700 and 3,650 square feet, which are smaller than typical Bozeman lots ranging between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet. Streets in the neighborhood will be narrower to encourage foot traffic over cars. There will be clustered parking, shared trash and recycling receptacles, common courtyards and walking paths.

Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy said during Monday’s meeting that she appreciated the use of shared spaces and called the project “innovative.”

“This project uses land very, very efficiently,” Pomeroy said.

Commissioner Michael Wallner said the plans presented Monday were thorough and well thought out.

“I really feel like they have done everything right here,” Wallner said.

The project has been in the works for years. The site is part of an original parcel the Trust for Public land bought in 2012 and later sold 55 acres of to the city, which is now Story Mill Community Park. The trust submitted conceptual plans to the city planning department in 2017 for the Bridger View neighborhood before handing the project off to HRDC last year.

Before the trust purchased it, the land had been home to Bridger View Trailer Court. The 92 families living there were evicted in 2006 after plans were made for a major housing development there. But those plans fell through and the site remained empty.

Menuez told city commissioners on Monday that Bozeman’s rapid growth led to the trailer court evictions and is still making it difficult to live in the area.

“Much of that growth and new development — what is easiest, least risky and most profitable — is leaving a lot of our community behind,” Menuez said. “So this neighborhood is a little bit different. It has certainly not been the easiest solution and it is going to require philanthropic support and partnerships to be successful.”

She said later that HRDC has been working toward this kind of project at the site ever since the 2006 evictions.

“It’s a highly personal endeavor for us to be involved in and to bring affordable homes back to the area,” Menuez said.

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Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2607.

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