City of Helena proposes draft plan of Cruse Avenue renovations

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 00:39:52-04

Imagine Cruse Avenue transformed into a trail system and this parking lot transformed into a building. Well, it all could happen.

"Cruse Avenue had been identified a couple years ago as part of downtown plans being an opportunity for a visioning initiative," says Adam Hughes, the CEO of Better City.

That vision led the City of Helena to host public meetings July 22-23rd regarding renovating Cruse Avenue.

The idea is to bring more connectivity in the Helena downtown district. There were three different ideas to renovate the street. According to the City of Helena, Option One is most favored based on public opinion and it includes narrowing Cruse Avenue and transforming the parking lots on the street into residential units.

"I think the idea of having additional living units so close to downtown is absolutely what's needed to extend its hours of functionality so that our sidewalks don't roll up at 5 o'clock in the evening," says Michael Dowling with Dowling Architects. They are the architects on the project.

The city conducted a study on June 18th and 19th, 2020, and found that 20-40% of the 600 parking lots on Cruse Avenue were being utilized. Some members worried that the data was not accurate due to the pandemic. Dowling addressed why the lots would be turned into residential units as opposed to commercial buildings.

"The reality is that if we get people living in the area, they will spend their evenings at the restaurants and dining establishments and stores and in the parks," says Dowling.

Links to the full project will be on our website. You still have time to leave comments or questions before the city develops the final plan.

For the full Cruse Avenue project description, click here.
To leave a comment or question, email the City of Helena’s Planner II, Michael McConnell, at

You may also call him at (406) 447-8492.