Bridger View

A rendering of the Bridger View development, which is scheduled to break ground this week.

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Construction on homes near Story Mill Park is set to begin this week more than a decade after residents of a mobile home park were kicked out to make way for separate doomed development.

The Bridger View development is planned to bring 62 homes to an 8-acre area between Story Mill Park, Bridger Drive and Story Mill Road. The land was home to the Bridger View Trailer Court for decades before a developer bought the property in 2006 with plans to build 1,200 homes and 140,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.

That development fell through, and the property was foreclosed on in 2008. It was later purchased by The Trust for Public Land, and part of it became Story Mill Community Park. A portion is now owned by the Headwaters Community Housing Trust, which is leading the new project.

After years of planning involving the city, the Human Resources Development Council and Headwaters, construction on the development is scheduled break ground this week.

“That we’re actually getting to this point that we’re able to have shovels in the ground means we’re making this neighborhood a reality,” said Christine Walker, who has consulted on the project. “It’s been something that we’ve been planning and hoping to move forward for many years.”

City commissioners gave preliminary approval to the plans in May 2020, though final city approval for the plan is still needed.

Developers plan to build 62 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes, half of which are planned to be sold at lower prices targeted to middle-income people.

Michael Brown, the housing trust’s executive director, said the homes will be kept permanently affordable.

“These are working households that earn too much to qualify for any federal or state housing affordability programs but too little to be able to afford a home of their own in Bozeman,” Brown said.

The first homes are expected to be ready for sale in February 2022, Brown said, with another third of the total planned buildings following in November of that year and the remaining homes expected to be complete in spring 2023.

The affordably-priced homes will be scattered throughout the development and “indistinguishable” from the homes sold at market rate, Brown said.

All homes in the development are being built modestly and on smaller-sized lots than normally seen in Bozeman. The roads inside the development will also be narrower. Though each home will have a small yard, there will be larger, common open spaces.

The purpose of that is twofold, Brown said, one aspect being smaller homes and smaller lots save money.

“The other part of it is that it will provide another alternative for future development because we don’t have unlimited land, we don’t have unlimited water resources,” Brown said. “So our thought was, ‘let’s design this neighborhood responsibly.’”

Walker said profits from the 31 homes being sold at market rate will also help offset costs for the affordable homes.

An anonymous donor Walker represents plans to donate funds to fill the gap to make the project possible.

Deputy Mayor Terry Cunningham said the project could be a model for future neighborhoods.

The compact design of the development prompted the city to think about how it can accommodate future projects with similar goals, Cunningham said.

“There are so many exciting things about that project that are really pushing the envelope that will translate to long-term affordability,” Cunningham said. “That is the poster project for future projects in Bozeman.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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