BILLINGS — The Stillwater Building in downtown Billings, for the most part, currently sits empty 11 months after the city spent $13 million to purchase the property. That will soon change as the city plans to relocate city departments there in early 2024.
After over two years of negotiating to buy the building, the city is making progress in updating the former federal courthouse.
It may be hard to picture right now, but the nearly 60-year-old Stillwater Building on 26th Street will soon be one of the busiest buildings in all of downtown.
“Right now, what we’ve got kind of programmed is city attorney’s office over to my left over in this area here. Then we got code enforcement and parking kind of over on this side,” said the assistant city administrator Kevin Iffland.
Come early 2024, the building will be home to city hall, the police department and the municipal court. But first, the building needs a major facelift, including updates to pipes, elevators, and the boiler.
“One of it is going to be a little bit of asbestos abatement in areas that haven’t been abated,” Iffland said.
The art wall on the second floor will have to be moved and abated but will remain in the building. Iffland said that will hopefully happen by the end of this year with construction on the building beginning in 2023. He said construction will take about 12 to 14 months.
For now, the city is currently maintaining the building as it still has tenants.
“The Yellowstone County offices are in here,” said Iffland.
County commissioners will move their operations to the Miller Building in downtown Billings in 2025. This will allow the Stillwater Building to house all city departments under one roof.
“Typical layout of what a floor looks like minus the fifth floor. The fifth floor is where the federal courtroom is actually located so in an area where it does have taller ceilings,” Iffland said.
Those taller ceilings mean the fifth floor will be utilized as council chamber space while the second floor will house more city departments and municipal court. That’s not all.
“We’re hoping to have a coffee shop or a sandwich shop or something like that in the building,” said Iffland.
The city will also be leasing out a big chunk of the building to other tenants and is also hoping to get the Stillwater Building on the National Register of Historic Places to offset the cost with a historic tax credit.
The building was known for decades as the James F. Battin Federal Courthouse before the federal government moved to a different building downtown.