A group of four dilapidated houses on a corner of North 20th Street in downtown Billings are being demolished this week. And, going away with the buildings are the headaches for property owners in the North Side neighborhood and constant visits from Billings Police officers who have responded to many calls there.
Trent Currie purchased the properties at 213 and 219 N. 20th St. in 2016 after failing to find a suitable project or a compatible business partner for developing property in the area east of downtown Billings.
"I've been trying to find a development in the EBURD for years now," he said, referring to the East Billings Urban Renewal District.
The EBURD is a tax increment financing district, a special zone where some commercial property taxes are diverted into private urban renewal projects within the boundaries of the district. The hope is that the renewal projects lift property values in the district, thus generating more growth and more taxes to renew the TIF fund.
The East Billings Urban Renewal District was created in 2006.
In May, Currie received $57,400 in TIF financing from the EBURD for the demolition and abatement of the four properties. His goal is to develop his corner of North 20th Street into what he describes as mixed-use, high-quality low-income housing.
Zack Terakedis is the new director of the Billings Industrial Revitalization District of which the EBURD is a part. He's excited about the potential development and the type of housing Currie plans. It's a great use for TIF funds, he said.
In the EBURD, every dollar spent from TIF funding pulls in $24 of private investment, Terakedis said. It's an incredible return on investment, he added.
Currie sees TIF financing and TIF investment as the powerhouse to transform the industrial zone east of downtown Billings.
Both Terakedis and Currie believe downtown Billings needs available affordable housing if it's going to become the vibrant core of a growing city. Currie points to the high-end condos and apartments currently available and the run-down, deteriorating buildings currently used for low-income housing.
"There's really no happy median," he said. "It's kinda heartbreaking to see people in our community living in those conditions."
His goal is to build low-income housing that fills that gap; something that's affordable and still high quality, he said.
Retrospective: Downtown Billings
Montana Avenue, 1883
Downtown looking north, 1895
Downtown looking west, 1900s
Downtown looking east, 1900s
Downtown looking northwest, 1900s
Downtown looking southeast, 1900s
Downtown looking southwest, 1900s
Downtown looking south, 1900s
Broadway near railroad tracks, 1910s
Billings Gazette building, 1910s
Midland National Bank Building, 1910s
Montana Hotel, 1910s
Brown Oil service station, 1920s
North 26th Street, 1920s
Clark Hotel, 1920s
Former Big 4 Second-Hand Store, 1930s
North Broadway looking south at Second Avenue North, 1930s
First Avenue North, 1964
Fourth Avenue North and North 27th Street
Silent Knight Muffler Service, 1975
First Avenue North looking west, 1976
First Avenue North looking east, 1976
North 29th Street, 1978
Broadway looking north, 1978
Second Avenue North, 1978
North Broadway looking south, 1978
Downtown Billings, 1980
First Avenue North looking east, 1980
North 27th Street, 1980
Second Avenue North and North Broadway, 1981
Corner of First Avenue North and North 29th Street, 1981
Montana Avenue and North Broadway, 1982
First Avenue North and North 29th Street, 1985
Norwest Bank and Sheraton Hotel, 1990
Retrospective: First Interstate Center
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