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Billings could purchase $17 million Stillwater building for law and justice center.

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 19:41:55-04

BILLINGS — At its Monday meeting, the Billings City Council will see a buy/sell agreement to purchase the Stillwater building and its land from Alaska-based WC Commercial LLC for a price of $17 million, according to the Council agenda.

The 200,000 square foot building would add more space for cramped city offices, police department and municipal court and consolidate them to one downtown location. A 2019 facilities master plan identified the need for more space as the city grows over the next 50 years, according to the agenda.

The Stillwater Building is located at 316 N 26th St., just two blocks away from the current location of City Hall. It has five floors and a basement. The estimated cost to build out the space is about $10 million.

A majority of the money for the Stillwater Building's purchase and build out would be covered thanks to a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The front side of the Stillwater Building in downtown Billings that is connected to the Stillwater Parking Garage across North 26th Street via sky bridge.

The city will end 2021 with about $20 million above the recommended minimum balance in the general fund thanks in part to several federal COVID-19 relief bills passed over the last year and a half.

This would still leave $7 million of the project cost for the city to find elsewhere.

The interior of the building is essentially gutted, except for the third floor which currently houses Yellowstone County government offices. The county's lease with WC Commercial ends in May 2025. If the city purchases the building, it would take over the county's lease.

The city's offices are currently spread across three locations in downtown Billings: The Miller Building at 301 N 29th St., Billings Depot at 2310 Montana Ave., and City Hall at 210 N 27th St. The leases on the depot and Miller Building run out within the next two years, which would allow those city departments to move into the Stillwater Building.

The planning and community development department, zoning department, code enforcement department, building division and public works could all be located under the Stillwater Building roof in the next few years if the city agrees to purchase the property.

The city would purchase the building at a price of $85/square foot. Far less than the $375/square foot it was estimated to cost to construct a new building, according to the agenda.

If the city moves ahead to buy the building, it would not receive ownership of the parking garage located across North 26th Street or the sky bridge that attaches the garage to the Stillwater Building.

The Stillwater Parking Garage, located at 316 N 26th St.

To learn more about the Stillwater Building's possible purchase by the city, view the Council agenda by clicking here.

RELATED: Billings moving ahead into negotiations with owner of Stillwater Building