The company that purchased the Radisson Hotel at Mullowney Lane and Midland Road, plans to tear down the adjacent Montana Convention Center and build in its place a new, full-service convention center.
Inner Circle bought what was then the Billings Holiday Inn Grand in 2015 and converted it to a Radisson Hotel. The deal included the old convention center that sits just east of the hotel.
The company sees the potential of a convention center at the site and, if done right, believes it could be a serious regional draw, said Michael Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Stewart, the planning firm spearheading the project.
Inner Circle is working with the South Billings Boulevard Urban Renewal District and the South Billings Tax Increment Finance district to map out the project and explore public financing options.
"This is a work in progress," Sanderson said.
Unclear is how Inner Circle's plans would impact discussions between Hammes Group and the Billings City Council regarding One Big Sky Center, the multi-use convention center, business park, shopping corridor and apartment district proposed for downtown.
Inner Circle talked openly two years ago about "big plans" for the convention center next to the hotel. However, company officials have kept a low profile during the recent discussions between Hammes and the council.
The company didn't want to be seen as trying to torpedo the One Big Sky Center talks, Sanderson said.
However, Inner Circle believes the time is right to move on its plans for the Radisson site. City leaders and representatives with Hammes have talked about potential plans in Bozeman and Missoula for large-scale convention centers and the need for Billings to get out in front of those cities and start its own project.
Inner Circle owns the property and has preliminary plans in place, Sanderson said.
"They could effectively move forward," he said. "That makes their project very viable."