DEQ deems Helena site ready for redevelopment as affordable housing project
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 17, 2019
Brian Walker, Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has deemed a vacant 10-acre underutilized parcel in Helena as ready for redevelopment as an 85-unit affordable housing project. The Red Alder project is at the southwest corner of Henderson and Brady Streets on the west side of Helena.
DEQ’s Brownfields Program oversaw the $200,000 cleanup of the site to be developed by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Development Council. The project will also include a park, community garden and community center. “This is one of the fastest projects we’ve been involved with,” said Jason Seyler, DEQ’s brownfields coordinator, adding that DEQ became involved in June.
Lead and barium were found, Seyler said, so the Brownfield Program assisted in helping the developer obtain low-interest Brownfields cleanup loan through the Snowy Mountain Development Corporation and helped guide the cleanup. “The cleanup will ensure people living in Red Alder will have a healthy place to live,” Seyler said.
Construction of the $8 million project was supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Montana Department of Commerce’s Housing Division and is expected to finish in late 2020. “We had several partners make the site preparation happen swiftly,” said Liz Mogstad, Rocky Mountain’s director of affordable housing. “DEQ was extremely efficient with turnaround times for approvals.” Braun Intertec developed the plan to address the environmental findings, while AC Solutions managed the compliance process and Bullock Contracting moved the contaminated dirt to a certified location. The southern portion of the property is adjacent to Montana Rail Link’s track.
DEQ’s Brownfields Program assists with real estate opportunities that have environmental concerns while helping communities reduce urban sprawl by preparing underutilized properties such as old gas stations and railyards for redevelopment. Examples of projects that have benefitted from the program include: Great Falls’ Arvon block downtown that’s now occupied by the Celtic Cowboy Irish Pub and Hotel Arvon; the Confluence Brewery, Montana Street Homes and the new food bank in Missoula; and the Brewery Flats recreation area in Lewistown. DEQ is also working with the City of Harlowton on the cleanup of the former Milwaukee Railroad yard that will become a park and wetland near the Musselshell River.
(NOTE: Before and after Red Alder cleanup photos available upon request.)