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Proposed Bozeman subdivision could help relieve city's housing crisis

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A map of the proposed Gran Cielo project location in southwest Bozeman. A map of the proposed Gran Cielo project location in southwest Bozeman.
A map of the proposed Gran Cielo subdivision in Bozeman. A map of the proposed Gran Cielo subdivision in Bozeman.
A map of the general vicinity that the proposed Gran Cielo subdivision will occupy in southwest Bozeman. A map of the general vicinity that the proposed Gran Cielo subdivision will occupy in southwest Bozeman.

If you’re struggling to find affordable housing in Bozeman, you’re not alone.

After being named one of the best places to live by multiple outlets, including National Geographic and CNN, the city of Bozeman is experiencing a population spike.

The Bozeman area is classified as a micropolitan area according to the U.S. Census Bureau, meaning a county that contains a “core urban area with less than 50,000 people.”

Bozeman is the fastest-growing micropolitan area in the United States.

It’s a growth that’s represented by new apartment buildings and homes constantly springing up around the outskirts of the city.

In order to keep up with the growth, Bozeman city commissioners are reviewing a proposed subdivision that could help residents find affordable housing, and more of it. Commissioners say that - in short - while the subdivision may not solve the housing crisis in Bozeman, it’s a start.

But as many Bozemanites know, new housing doesn’t necessarily mean the tide of change is coming.

Greg Madsen, a Bozeman resident, said of the housing crisis: “It’s definitely really hard. I mean, I get people all the time saying they go through Craigslist, Bozeman Daily Chronicle. It seems like [rent prices] jump every year, and it’s kind of sad because there’s a lot of people who want to live in Bozeman.”

Madsen’s friend, Mike Langaas, who moved to Bozeman in 2015 but currently resides in Belgrade, says the crisis is affecting his friends of all ages and walks of live. “I’ve got a friend who’s older, his name is Bob. He had to move out of town, he’d lived [in Bozeman] since ’68. He’s semi-retired, has to live near Livingston because he can’t afford to live here.”

Bozeman housing prices are higher than most cities in Montana, even if they’re around the national average. It’s an issue that Deputy Mayor and City Commissioner Chris Mehl isn’t afraid to admit to. But he hopes that the new Gran Cielo subdivision, which will be northwest of S. 27th Avenue and Graf Street, will be able to help citizens find affordable housing.

“Housing is an issue for us,” Mehl said. “We’re right at about the national average, but I’m pretty sure with these additional homes, these additional rental units, that it’ll help more people find the housing they need.”

The Gran Cielo subdivision proposes a 49-acre space to hold 124 residential townhouses and two parks.

Mehl says he hopes the new townhouses will be appealing to both Montana State students and faculty, since the university is one of Bozeman’s largest employers.

“It’s close to the university, it’s close to a lot of jobs that are south of town, and so I would suspect there would be a lot of young people living in the townhouses or apartments because you can ride your bike easily – even walk – to the university or other places.”

And with so few listings available on apps like Zillow, Homes.com, and Trulia, it’s clear that if Bozeman continues to grow, it will need to focus on housing projects for all income levels.

“We just need housing,” reiterated Mehl. “More than half of Bozemanites rent, and so this will provide both: some ownership opportunities, but also some rentals.”

The Bozeman City Commission is more than aware of the housing crisis and say they’re making moves to fix it.

To learn more about the Gran Cielo subdivision, visit http://weblink.bozeman.net/WebLink8/0/doc/158271/Electronic.aspx. Document highlights are included in the gallery above.

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