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Helena leaders consider expanding the Downtown Urban Renewal District

The commission created the Downtown Urban Renewal District last year
Helena leaders consider expanding the Downtown Urban Renewal District
Posted at 12:42 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 14:42:40-04

HELENA — Helena leaders have taken the first step toward expanding the city’s Downtown Urban Renewal District.

The Helena City Commission approved a resolution Monday that found the area bounded by Rodney Street, Pine Street, Warren Street and 6th Avenue to be “blighted.” That will allow the area to be added on to the urban renewal district, which lies to its west.

The commission created the Downtown Urban Renewal District last year. It allows the city to use tax increment financing – which sets aside some of the tax revenue collected there for redevelopment projects.

Sharon Haugen, Helena’s community development director, said city leaders identified the Rodney Street area as a possible addition to the district last year. They hired the consultant WGM Group to do a study of the neighborhood. In that study, consultants identified several potential indicators of blight, including deteriorating buildings and outdated streets.

Making the neighborhood part of the urban renewal district could make additional funding available for things like street and sidewalk work and building improvements.

Haugen said, despite the designation of “blight,” the Rodney Street area has a lot of promise. She said it stands out in Helena because of its mixture of residences and businesses. The neighborhood also includes places like the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse and the Myrna Loy Center.

“It’s a great neighborhood, it’s kind of a unique neighborhood, and the hope is that some of this tax increment financing and some of this planning can help take advantage of some of that uniqueness,” Haugen said.

The next step will be to update the Downtown Urban Renewal District Plan to include the additional area. Haugen said the city will hold a neighborhood meeting on September 11 to discuss how to move forward.