MISSOULA - A long-discussed project to build a new hotel and conference center downtown has a new key player: the owner of the Wilma and the Top Hat.
A release issued Oct. 14 says businessman Nick Checota is proposing taking the development rights of the Hotel Fox Partnership, and will assume responsibility for the massive project. The proposal will go in front of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday.
Checota is the businessman behind recent renovations of the Top Hat, Wilma and the new Kettlehouse Amphitheater. His company Logjam Presents organizes the concerts at the venues.
The Riverfront Triangle Project is a plan to remodel a corner of Orange and Front Street that's currently occupied by a parking lot. Decades ago, the site was home to the Fox Theater.
"There was a previous proposal for a conference center and a hotel and what we are going to do is expand the conference center to be more of an event center," Nick Checota said.
Under Checota's involvement, the $100 million project would include a 400-space parking garage, hotel and "multipurpose civic event center" with designs for a venue that could put on concerts for 6,000 people.
According to the proposal, Checota would buy the land from the city for just over $2 million, He says construction for the hotel event center combo would cost about $100 million, Then the city would buy back the parking garage and the event center for $16 million.
Checota says the city will collect revenue from parking fees and leasing the event center back to him.
"I think this is a big opportunity for Missoula, and for us as the developers, to figure out how to expand downtown along the Broadway corridor," Checota said.
The event center could bring an estimated 12,000-15,000 people from outside Missoula into downtown each month, the release says.
Developers hope to launch construction on the project in summer 2020.
Now all of these plans depend on the city council's approval of the proposal, they will be voting on it this Wednesday.