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Billings City Council chambers.

LARRY MAYER, Gazette Staff

A pair of upcoming studies — one on workforce housing, one sports related — could be keys to helping a pair of Billings urban renewal districts maintain their redevelopment momentum.

Tim Goodridge, coordinator of the East Billings Urban Renewal District, told the Billings City Council Monday he expects to receive a study Tuesday that will evaluate East Billings and downtown locations for constructing workforce housing, designed for families in the $30,000 to $70,000 salary range. That report will be presented publicly at a later date.

On Wednesday, said South Billings Urban Renewal District administrator Steve Zeier, Victus Advisors, a consultant based in Park City, Utah, will meet with the committee that will steer the Yellowstone County sports feasibility study. “Right now, it’s a great idea — but it’s just that,” Zeier said. “There needs to be some due diligence done, but it could be a significant economic driver, given the need in the community” and the access to available land and the proximity of hotels and restaurants in South Billings, he said.

“The challenge is always, how do you fund it?” Zeier said. “That’s something that’s being discussed.”

A third undertaking, a market study to determine whether to modernize the Radisson Hotel and Convention Center, is also underway, Zeier said. Inner Circle Properties is considering whether to demolish the current facility and construct another of at least 80,000 square feet.

On the report that Good Earth Market plans to close its operation, Greg Kruger, development director for the Downtown Billings Alliance, called the market “a wonderful business while it lasted.” He predicted the site, at 3024 Second Ave. North, will be filled, “we hope with a grocery store,” or perhaps a deli or a convenience store.

“It is something we cannot live without in our core downtown,” Kruger said.

Other items discussed during Monday’s work session included:

  • Potbellied pigs — City Attorney Brent Brooks said a committee of city staff is having a difficult time devising a way to grandfather in the existing porcine pets after the council banned them from city limits Sept. 11. Brooks expects to report back to the council in two or three weeks.
  • Medical marijuana — The city has been sued over the council’s Aug. 29 decision to ban medical marijuana dispensaries inside city limits. The second reading of the ordinance banning dispensaries was to have occurred Nov. 13. Brooks said he will recommend that the council table the second reading until the litigation “has taken its course.”
  • Heritage Trail — Because the new sewage treatment plant is under construction, the Heritage Trail has been closed from Alkali Creek to Highway 87. An alternate route has been posted on the Parks and Recreation Department’s website, www.billingsparks.org.
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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.