Missoula mayor meets with property managers over proposed housing units


MISSOULA, Mont. - Property managers met with Missoula Mayor John Engen to talk about a controversial plan to build 1,000 new apartment units in Missoula.

Housing is part of the joint city-University quality of life initiative.

Property managers met with the mayor at a lunch meeting Thursday.

Supporters said building new units would help take students and others out of unsafe, run down housing.

But many rental property owners think descriptions like that are overstated.

Pointing to a rising vacancy rate, they said, there's an abundance of safe, clean housing.

Long range plans are to build units along the East Broadway corridor.

The mayor said he's been in touch with several developers who specialize in what modern college students need.

"It's about being able to be social,"said Engen,It's about being secure, he said,  with proximity to campus. And a piece of this is also about parents who are footing the bill.

But look at the vacancy rate said property manager Tom Chapman. "We see that studios are at 6 % where a year ago they were at 3% so you can see a large increase.

I think as a community we need to be concerned," said Chapman.

Another part of the initiative would be to set up an inspection plan to make sure housing units are safe and sound.

Engen thinks quality rentals would benefit from that.

But many property owners said its an already fragile market.

They said while it's taking longer to rent units, expenses and taxes continue to rise.

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