Work continues on Broadway Apartments
The Lewistown City Commission voted Monday night to sponsor the Montana Preservation Alliance in their application for a state Community Development Block Grant, continuing work the organization started with the purchase of the building in October of 2015. “It’s a partnership,” explained Lewistown City Manager Kevin Myhre. “The City’s involved in the process of helping them look for funding, helping them in the planning process, those types of things.” Myhre clarified the city’s cooperation did not extend to financials, saying MPA would pay any required matching funds. A federal program administered by the state, the program’s website states Community Development Block Grants go to communities with less than 50,000 residents. Helping to develop affordable housing is one the programs eligible categories. For the MPA and its Executive Director Cher Jiusto, any money awarded would go towards figuring out what the Broadway Apartments could be. Jiusto acknowledged her organization had already done a preliminary architectural feasibility study, but said they were requesting funds for a preliminary architectural report, and that the two had important differences. “The first feasibility study looked at how sound the building was, what the building’s likely needs were in terms of future repairs, just kind of a broad-brush analysis of what uses might be suggest for the building,” she explained. “This report looks in detail at how to design the building going forward,” Jiusto continued. “What it really looks at is all the different schedules for things like a roof, heating systems, room configurations: It takes those things all much further in terms of what exactly are the building needs and what it will cost to do those repairs.” MPA sent a letter to city commission members requesting sponsorship, according to Chair Dave Byerly, and he stated the idea had potential during an interview before Monday’s meeting. “If there’s no obligation on the taxpayers of Lewistown, and this is a way we can support bringing this building into beneficial use, I’m certainly interested in it,” he said. Pointing to the building’s history, Byerly expressed appreciation over the efforts of a credible organization such as the Montana Preservation Alliance. “I think the city commission is like any citizen of Lewistown,” he said. “I think we all want to see the Broadway Apartments building turned from an eyesore that’s deteriorating into something that benefits and enhances the community.” City Planning Director Duane Ferdinand was excited about the grant, but added the project was moving forward in another way, too. “The EPA is funding a targeted Brownfields assessment,” he said. Ferdinand described the assessment as a building inspection looking for hazardous materials, in this case asbestos. “I don’t think there’s any other contaminants in there,” he said. “The building has been gutted out already.” He labeled it a big move for the project: A positive assessment, or the removal of any remaining hazardous materials, will clear the project for work by contractors. Jiusto labeled it as looking ahead. “We’re just being prudent and getting things identified so there are no hidden surprises down the road,” she said.