Yellowstone Airport Plaza location

Activity is ongoing at a former mining pit and future site of Yellowstone Airport Plaza Thursday, March 5, 2020, directly off the airport exit of Interstate 90 in Belgrade. The site will eventually be home to lodging, restaurants, entertainment and a number of other businesses.

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A commercial real estate firm has announced plans to develop a hotel near Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and construction is set to begin this summer.

The 65,000-square-foot, four-story hotel will be one of the first buildings to go up in the Yellowstone Airport Plaza, a former gravel pit that will be transformed into a mixed-use site with hotels, restaurants and other businesses. The development in Belgrade has been in the works for years.

The investment and development division of Energy Real Estate Solutions (ERES) announced its plans to build the 120-room hotel in a news release, saying the hotel will “serve the ever-growing demand of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.”

ERES Capital will announce the hotel brand and management partner sometime this spring, according to the release.

In the news release, Mike Elliott, ERES CEO, said the location of the future hotel, less than a mile from the airport, is ideal.

“Typically, you will see 20 to 30 hotels around an airport of this size and while supply has grown in the downtown Bozeman area, virtually no hotels have been built in the Belgrade or airport area for over seven years making this an incredible opportunity,” Elliott said.

Elliot said ERES is in the process of interviewing contractors, but has picked international Base4 as the architect for the project.

The airport saw 1.5 million passengers board planes in 2019, making it the 10th consecutive year of record-breaking passenger traffic. A $27 million project is underway at the airport to add 70,000 square feet, four new gates, a third restaurant, more stores, passenger boarding bridges, a larger terminal apron and space for future development to the west side of the concourse.

The Yellowstone Airport Plaza is just off of the I-90 interchange and east of Airway Boulevard. Infrastructure development for the site is underway. Connecticut-based Charter Realty & Development owns and is developing the site. ERES signed a 99-year lease with Charter to build the new hotel, according to Elliott.

Plans on Charter’s website shows businesses like a gas station, brewery, liquor store, restaurant, bowling alley and movie theater could pop up in the plaza. The Belgrade News reported that Belgrade City Council approved changes to the Yellowstone Airport Plaza planned unit development (PUD) on Monday to allow for mixed-use development. That means developers can now add residential buildings to the site in addition to commercial buildings.

Jason Karp, director of planning for the city of Belgrade, said this change to the PUD will allow for a workforce housing project to begin at the plaza this spring. He said the first building permit will be issued in the near future for a Holiday Station Store. Belgrade Liquor Store is also expected to get a permit to build at the plaza.

“Commercial projects take a while to get the ball rolling, but it’s like a snowball effect. Once one gets going the rest get started pretty quickly,” Karp said.

Elliott said the new hotel will fill a gap in services for passengers using the airport.

“We see a lot of people who fly in and out late at night or early in the morning, and right now they’re limited in where they can stay,” Elliott said.

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

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