Earlier this week I visited Randy Hafer with High Plains Architects in Billings to discuss opportunities to encourage additional Historic Development Downtown. Randy could be called the Guru of Montana historic tax credit projects. Having completed over six certified Historic Tax Credit Rehabilitation projects in Billings alone, he has also been instrumental in recent Great Falls feasibility studies. Randy is the architect for recent local projects including the Arvon Block development and the Rocky Mountain Building.
Randy stressed the point of “synergy”. A successful redevelopment project needs partners to compliment each others assets. Depending on the project, that could include a motivated owner, one or more investors, knowledgeable development, accounting, design, and legal support, as well as a supportive community. Depending on the intended use, one or more businesses can be important drivers of the development’s success. Randy stressed how residential space has been the most successful use in projects so far, but mentioned that one of his partners has been driving development by implementing dining opportunities in first floor spaces.
The map below shows a recent inventory of historic potential in our own downtown. Spark Architecture is currently organizing a “historic development opportunities” Open House on Feb. 1st 2013. The goal for that night is opening the doors to synergies between businesses, building owners, and potential investors, as well as providing basic information on the “How-to”.