Billings prepares to sell City Hall and other properties downtown – Billings Gazette

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City Hall
The Billings City Council voted 9-2 Monday to negotiate possible rental or purchase of space in the Stillwater Building for a new City Hall downtown.
Billings City Hall will soon go up for sale and city leaders are hoping developers will take a look. 
On the block will be City Hall at the corner of North 27th Street North and 3rd Avenue North, the retail office space on the ground floor of Park 1, the city’s parking garage on 3rd Avenue North between North 29th and North 30th Streets, and the parking lots owned by the city on either side of the Burger Dive on 200 block of 27th Street. 
Officials are hopeful with the sale of the different properties the city can spur more economic activity downtown. 
“That would be a main consideration,” said Kevin Iffland, assistant city administrator. 
Billings City Council unanimously approved four resolutions Monday night authorizing city staff to begin the process of putting the properties up for sale. The next step will be preparing requests for proposals for potential buyers to submit to the city. 
City Hall will go up for sale because Billings administration, Municipal Court and the Billings Police department — all housed in the building on North 27th Street — will have a new home in 2024. 
Billings purchased the Stillwater Building on the 300 block of North 26th Street for $13.5 million last year. Along with the purchase price, the city will spend an additional $16 million to build out the Stillwater to meet the needs of the various departments and organizations that will occupy it, and to upgrade and repair some of the building’s aging infrastructure.
For more than six years the city worked to find a place and a way to pay for new space for its municipal court system, Billings Police department headquarters and city hall.
A master facilities plan presented in 2016 and updated in 2019 found that the city was short approximately 20,000 square feet of the space it needed; it currently uses 68,485 square feet spread across multiple buildings downtown and on the city’s South Side. The study sparked the city’s search for a new home.
The retail space on the ground floor of Park 1 includes the city’s Crime Prevention Center, which will make the move to the Stillwater along with the police department. Also renting space there is Volunteers of America and the Yellowstone County Self Help Law Center. 
City officials are hoping to sell those spaces to small local businesses, capitalizing on downtown’s relatively short supply of small business space for sale. Most are only available for lease.
“We’ve got a lot of large buildings downtown (for sale),” Matt Robertson, a broker with NAI Properties told city council members Monday night. “But small retail spaces are in demand.”
City officials are hopeful that selling the individual spaces to retailers or other businesses could help spur economic development along that stretch of 3rd Avenue North. 
They hope a developer takes interest in City Hall. The building is a unique space housing everything from the city administrator’s office to Municipal Court and the police department. It also comes with a parking garage.
The best option for its sale may be a developer who can remodel or completely rebuild the space. 
The hope is the same for the two parking lots on either side of the Burger Dive. Brad Halsten and his wife Andi Halsten, who own the Burger Dive, will eventually leave the building; last year they began working on refitting the Wagon Wheel and the Western Bar on Minnesota Avenue to be the Burger Dive’s new home.
Council members expressed the desire that a developer would buy up the parking lots and the building and perhaps install a multistory apartment complex. 
“We just need to start the process,” said council member Mike Boyett. “To me this is a no-brainer.”

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City Hall
The Billings City Council voted 9-2 Monday to negotiate possible rental or purchase of space in the Stillwater Building for a new City Hall downtown.
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