Have You Heard: Downtown revitalization stretches east along Minnesota

2011-08-07T00:15:00Z 2011-08-09T09:57:30Z Have You Heard: Downtown revitalization stretches east along MinnesotaBy JAN FALSTAD Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 07, 2011 12:15 am  • 

The amazing remake of a once-seedy Montana Avenue has already jumped the railroad tracks and headed west of South 27th Street along Minnesota Avenue.

Now that urban beautification effort is spreading east along Minnesota.

Joni Harman and her husband, Steve Harman, who remodeled an old warehouse into the Swift Building Lofts, are now remodeling the former Kitchen Gallery warehouse at Minnesota and South 26th Street next to Mintana Mills.

When the work is done this fall, a coffee shop/restaurant will dominate the middle of the 6,400-square-foot property. Joni and Steve’s son, Ben Harman, has been working as a chef in California and has moved back home to open this yet-to-be-named restaurant.

“He is very creative and fun. He’ll do breakfast and lunch and it will be certified by the Green Restaurant Association,” Joni Harman said.

Her son, Adam, is teaming up with Jay Marschall on a second business in the building called Adventure Co-op, which will sell consignment outdoor gear. Other tenants include the Russ Plath Law firm, Sage Environmental Consulting and another tenant who isn’t ready to be named.

The Harmans bought the building at a foreclosure sale and are investing $450,000 in the project, including the purchase price, she said.

Harman said her favorite touch is leaving the railroad side of her building raw with the original brick exposed and having a conference room out by the loading dock.

“You walk in and see it from the front door. Once again you walk in and feel like you’re in an old building,” she said.

RMC receives gift in swap

Rocky Mountain College has received a gift worth $650,000 from Billings attorney Cliff Edwards’ family as part of a recent land swap. As reported in this column a week ago, RMC traded property at 1648 Poly Drive for a hangar it had been leasing for the college’s aviation program at Billings Logan International Airport.

“The $650,000 is the difference between the values of the properties. This was a very generous gift from the Edwards family,” said RMC President Michael Mace.

For four years, the college has been leasing the hangar to house the nine airplanes used in the aviation program.

The two top advantages of this swap are saving money by not having a lease payment, and the professionalism of owning the hangar, said aviation director Dan Hargrove.

“When our prospective students come they are blown away

at how nice our facilities are,” he said.

The swap frees up $69,000 a year for Rocky in the rent it was paying to Edwards for the hangar, Mace said.

“That’s a huge opportunity for us. We can make some repairs on that hangar, when needed, and faculty development throughout the whole institution,” he said.

In addition to the law firm, Edwards also owns Edwards Jet Center, Montana’s largest charter operation and the only fixed-base operation left at Billings airport.

On June 1, Edwards bought out his local competition, Corporate Jet.

Edwards and his two sons and law partners, John and Chris Edwards, are going to build a three-story office that will complement Rocky’s brick architectural style at 17th and Poly. They will occupy the top floors and lease out the ground floor.

New Roberts BBQ

Gordon May, a Texan who graduated from Rocky Mountain College and then spent 20 years working in Austin, is cooking Texas-style barbecue in Roberts.

A month ago, May opened the Shady Grove BBQ & Tacqueria at 8185 U.S. Highway 212 next to the Mocha Moose.

“I thought I’d see if I could bring central Texas barbecue to Montana because the beef is so good up here,” he said.

May said he learned cooking on the tailgate of his pickup while working as a geologist. He makes all his own Texas barbecue and Northern Mexico sauces, even if some customers abstain.

“The real purists down there won’t even use barbecue sauce. They just eat the beef,” he said

Shady Grove is a seasonal eatery and will be open until the end of September. Then May will smoke hams and turkeys for special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Winter Carnival in Red Lodge.

Good Earth joins co-op

Now that Good Earth Market has joined the National Co-op Grocers Association, members and shoppers can get special buys.

On Aug. 3, the Good Earth at 3024 Second Ave. N., and 122 other U.S. co-ops started offering deals through ads and fliers. The collective buying power means that individual stores can pass on some lower prices to their customers.

“We’re going to have about 200 products sale priced twice a month,” said Good Earth’s general manager Perry McNeese. “And sales were up 10 percent over last year at $2.9 million at the end of our fiscal year in June.”

Out and about

The former Movie Gallery on Main Street is being remodeled into smaller office spaces and the first tenant sign for an AT&T Authorized store was put up last week.

Montana now has its own chapter of the national Horse Council, which promotes horse activities, needs and welfare. To learn more, call 406-624-9484 or go to: www.montanahorsecouncil.info

By the numbers

90 percent: The number of U.S. cities that reported a rise in unemployment in June. The U.S. Labor Department said unemployment rates were unchanged in seven cities, lower in 20 cities and higher in 345 large cities. The nation’s unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent for June, the highest this year. Montana’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 7.5 percent for June. Unemployment in Yellowstone County was 6.0 percent.

Scams du jour

Don’t let your ego trip you up.

The Better Business Bureau is warning of a scam by Continental Broadcasting Network, Inc. of New York offering to include you in a professional Who’s Who Directory.

The company really is fishing for biographical and personal information and wants a fee for you “award-winning” listing.

Laugh lines

After finishing her first week of first grade, a girl complains to her mother that school is a waste of time and she doesn’t want to go back.

“I can’t read, I can’t write and they won’t let me talk,” she moaned.

Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or 406-657-1306.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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