Historical Board Could Decide Fort Missoula Project Soon
The developer who wants to restore the Old Post Hospital at Fort Missoula, says the project isn't economically feasible if he can't add a few housing units to the property.
And Max Wolf says he's committed to making sure public access is preserved.
Wolf purchased the shuttered hospital three years ago and is asking Missoula's Historic Preservation Commission to endorse a plan to restore the old building. He acknowledges that idea seems to have broader support. But he told people on a tour of the site over the weekend that it's idea of adding 16 adjacent housing units, and some small commercial operations that have Fort Missoula supporters upset.
On Talkback this week, Wolf said his partners are committed to preserving public access…
"The Old Post Hospital will be restored and look original from the outside," Wolf explained. "The inside of the Old Post Hospital will most likely be office space with maybe an option of a pub or something in the basement."
"The whole project is community driven." -Max Wolf, Fort Missoula Commons Developer
"You can see this from the community space in the back that is attached to a plaza for the event spaces, the two commercial buildings in the front that are connected to a plaza, and also a playground, all that are going to be open to the public."
Architect David Gray says the plan was developed around the historical zoning used by the city.
"One of the issues is you can't rent really to anybody to generate enough income to maintain the building," Gray said. "Only medical offices are allowed in that area. Nonprofit office is not."
A fight over the future look of "The Fort"
Opponents with "Save the Fort" say that zoning is critical to preserving the history of the entire Fort Missoula campus. Wolf contends the attached homes will actually help protect the hospital.
"We think the residential component is a huge part of this, not only for the taxes that it will create for the area but also to create caretakers of the land. This building is not only against the fight against time right now, but it's been a fight against vagrants and vandals. It's been a constant break-in with this building and that's currently why we have the fence up around the property."
Expect more public comment, and a possible decision when the Historical Board meets tonight at 6 pm at the City Council chambers, and online.