BILLINGS – One by one, the key players involved in the new One Big Sky project for downtown Billings are getting on board.
Thursday morning, the Big Sky Economic Development board of directors voted to approve a development agreement with Minnesota-based Hammes Development.
That action came three days after the Billings City Council voted 6-5 to approve the same plan. The Downtown Business Alliance added its endorsement Tuesday.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce Board will meet next week to consider its support.
While no spending was authorized and these steps are not the final say on the project, they do represent a significant commitment by key parties, supporters say.
Steve Arveschoug, director of Big Sky EDA, told Q2 Thursday the key work will take place between now and the end of the year as the One Big Sky District Development plan takes shape.
"It’s a commitment of time and resources, but it will create a very important blueprint for moving forward, building the core heart of our community, which better prepares us to retain and attract talent, and attract talent and private investment," Arveschoug said.
Key to the plan are what Arveschoug refers to as “catalyst projects” that have the potential to spur other development as well.
"You may see a large, mixed-use kind of development that includes a civic, convention center piece that is attached to a new hotel, and mixed-use development, residential, office, other sorts of mixed use opportunities, civic plaza," Arveschoug said. "Because the planning area includes the medical corridor, you could see other concepts. We need to do a much better job of connecting our medical corridor with the right kind of infrastructure to our downtown."
As for local support, both First Interstate and Stockman Banks in Billings are involved as contributing partners .
Arveschoug says the hope is to have the project’s development plan in place by the time the 2019 Legislature convenes next January, so state lawmakers will also have the opportunity to see how the state of Montana could get involved as well.