Missoula, Montana | Brooks Street

Midtown in Focus: Innovative Land Use Planning in a Transit Corridor

Missoula, Montana  |  2016

Project Details

The Challenge

Key Activities



Brooks Street is the primary transportation and commercial corridor through Midtown Missoula. Doubling as State Highway 93, it is an auto-oriented corridor that serves as a key connector between the Bitterroot Valley and Missoula’s downtown core.

Home to many retail and office uses, the corridor serves adjacent neighborhoods and the rest of the city. The area has also been experiencing significant new development projects such as redevelopment of the Southgate Mall and the realignment of the existing bus Route 7 directly onto Brooks Street.

With fast and reliable transit service coming to Brooks Street, a team from Midtown Missoula was seeking new opportunities for housing and commercial development, as well as opportunities to create new activity nodes and strengthen pedestrian connections. Midtown sought assistance from Community Builders to understand the land use planning context of the area and explore tools to help the market capitalize on the transit enhancements.

In September 2016, Community Builders led a three-day site visit and community engagement charrette with assistance from Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA). PUMA prepared a market analysis examining the economic characteristics of the study area, while we collaborated with a multi-agency working group including members from Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA), City of Missoula, Mountain Line, and the Missoula County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Community members responded to an online questionnaire which gathered their opinions on the challenges and character of the corridor. We further conducted a tour of the project site to observe existing conditions, understand challenges from a user perspective, and get a sense of the character of Brooks Street.

Two public open houses were held during the visit. At the first open house, community members participated in a visual preference polling session where they provided input on character images they liked or disliked in relation to Brooks Street. A pubic open house/charrette on the second day gave community members a chance to provide feedback on their vision for the corridor.

The Midtown Missoula Association left the process with a clear understanding of next steps in making Brooks Street a thriving corridor. The community engagement process established common goals and a vision for the corridor and a market assessment identified opportunities for needed housing and retail uses.

The final report provided recommendations for design strategies and infrastructure improvements, as well as steps needed to make the corridor walkable, connected, and ready for re-investment.

Click the button below to read the final report.