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North Side 'meth houses' demolition to make way for affordable housing

North Side 'meth houses' demolition to make way for affordable housing

Housing demolition

Developer Trent Currie tears down a house at 213 North 20th Street on Monday. Currie bought the property and is removing a dozen units with a plan to build affordable housing.

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


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