MISSOULA – University of Montana President Royce Engstrom today announced that the East Broadway site will be the location for the new Missoula College building.
Engstrom made his selection after months of public comments, meetings and forums with interested UM students, University employees, elected officials and community members.
“I believe the East Broadway site will give us a distinctive opportunity to make a bold statement about UM and the role two-year education plays in the Missoula community and western Montana,” Engstrom said. “We will be able to implement more fully the Missoula College mission to serve the educational and work force needs of this region while placing a state-of-the-art facility in a showcase location near the entrance to Missoula and along the Clark Fork River. This places UM and Missoula College strongly in the public eye,” he said.
A feasibility study completed in July outlined plans for a multistory building along with parking and bicycle spaces at the site, which is across the river from the mountain campus and adjacent to UM’s MonTEC business incubator. The study showed no major impediments to developing the site and outlined a building with more than 155,000 gross square feet that could handle current and projected enrollment for Missoula College.
Plans also called for creating a total of 730 parking spaces on the site and on property across Broadway. Parking would cover Missoula College, MonTEC and Park-N-Ride users, according to the study conducted by Mark Headley of StudioFORMA Architects.
Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian said Engstrom’s decision is important for students, residents, employers and families in Missoula and the region. “It is good to be moving forward,” Christian said. “This location is well-suited for a modern college facility that will better serve the region’s work force development and educational needs.”
Engstrom announced in May he was considering two possible sites for the new Missoula College building: East Broadway and South Campus. “The East Broadway site connects us with the Missoula downtown and business communities,” he said. “We also envision business technology, energy technology, computer technology and other programs as having increasingly strong interactions with MonTEC.”
Two additional factors weighed in the East Broadway site’s favor, Engstrom said. The location meets the fundamental requirement for proximity to the mountain campus, and it is expected that infrastructure costs will be lower.
“The East Broadway site already has much essential infrastructure in place,” the president said. “Funding not spent on basic infrastructure will be applied to the new building itself.”
Engstrom said the South Campus – home to student housing, the UM Golf Course and athletic fields – remains the location for future University expansion projects under the South Campus Master Plan, approved by the Board of Regents in 2007.
The 2013 Legislature appropriated $29 million for a Missoula College building, and UM is required to raise a $3 million match. The existing Missoula College East Campus originally was built for 700 students. This fall, MC enrollment is 2,200.
Engstrom said a traffic study, parking study and an environment assessment will be conducted on the East Broadway site.
Engstrom said he appreciated all the input he received from students, faculty, staff, students, residents and community leaders.
“I wanted to take in all the dialogue and hear all viewpoints,” he said. “Now we have a decision, and it’s time to move this project forward. The funding of an improved Missoula College is a 100 percent positive development for students, faculty and staff, and we can’t wait to show off a new building in a wonderful setting that’s so close to our central campus.”