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Billings City Council To Hold Special Meeting, Hear Updates On One Big Sky Center Project

One Big Sky Center

The Billings City Council will hold a special 5 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall to discuss the proposed $165 million One Big Sky Center downtown.

MontDevCo LLC, the developer of the 70,000 square feet project, seeks up to $35 million in tax increment financing: also known as TIF, this is a kind of city-sanctioned loan, funded by public tax dollars, that shields borrowers for a certain number of years from area tax increases.

All 50 states in the U.S. have tax increment financing programs, and they are generally used for urban redevelopment purposes.

Recently, for example, the Billings City Council approved $350,000 in TIF to help aid the expansion of Art House Cinema and Pub downtown into a multi-screen theater with a more refined food and beverage concession.

MontDevCo, which plans for construction of One Big Sky Center to begin in 2019 if granted the tens of millions in tax increment financing that they seek, recently named their financial partner – a joint-venture firm called Hammes Company.

Headquartered in Wisconsin, Hammes is a real-estate development and investment company that has been instrumental in developing the new home of the Minnesota Vikings.

According to the Billings Gazette, the company has also invested in Allentown, Pennsylvania to help redevelop a 128-acre “Neighborhood Improvement Zone” in the city’s downtown and waterfront neighborhoods with tax increment financing.

MontDevCo has said they would spend downtown Billings tax increment financing on public-use facets of the mixed-use project, including a convention center, parking garage, and pedestrian greenway. One Big Sky Center project is anticipated to also boast a hotel, retail space, apartments, senior living, and entertainment space – and more.

At tonight’s city council meeting, the public and councilmembers will hear project updates from organizers with MontDevCo and, for the first time, Hammes Company.

This information will be important for when the city council meets again, July 24th, to take final action on a memorandum of understanding. This MOU is a contract that would indicate how much tax increment financing the city is willing to grant out of the $35 million the partner developers seek.

The regular city council meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m. at at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.