The recent investments in downtown Billings real estate are encouraging for what they mean for local business, affordable housing, and the continued revitalization of downtown.
As residential real estate skyrockets, affordable housing becomes more and more vital to continuing the current cycle of business growth here. And investors buying property with the stated intention of providing more affordable housing is a win-win.
As established businesses thrive and more businesses open downtown, getting through our current labor shortage will have a lot to do with their success, and developing downtown affordable housing is a necessary and overdue long-term solution.
All the more reason we must take every step possible to reduce downtown crime. That means real investment in social services and law enforcement. It will involve the continuum of care social-services approach to homelessness — and the ability, through jail expansion, a "sobering center," and continued passage of public-safety levies like the one that will go before voters in November, to make a real dent in public intoxication and related crimes.
We believe the (Big) sky is the limit for Billings' downtown, and we are pleased to note the arrival of others who think the same, and are willing to invest in that conviction.
The Billings Gazette Editorial Board includes President and Publisher Dave Worstell, Regional Editor David McCumber, and Chief Photographer Larry Mayer.