Butte, Montana

Uptown’s Gateway: Solutions for the West Park Street Corridor

Location: Butte, Montana
Completed Date: November 2015
Partner: Butte Local Development Corporation, Butte Silver-Bow City/County


Challenge

The City of Butte, Montana, population 34,500, is home to Montana Tech, a highly regarded engineering school. Montana Tech is located in “uptown” Butte, the city’s historical core, which has suffered from decades of disinvestment as growth and development occurred mostly in the area south of uptown known as the “flats.” Today, however, there is a growing interest in reinvigorating uptown as investors return to the area. West Park Street is the central corridor connecting Montana Tech to the central business district in uptown, and serves as the gateway to the Tech campus. The street is a wide, mostly auto-oriented corridor with a mix of straddling land uses including residential, office and commercial. Butte and its partners sought to strengthen the link between Tech and uptown by examining and improving land use controls and incentives governing the West Park Street corridor, including the potential to explore architectural design requirements.

West Park is mostly an auto-oriented corridor.

Key Activities

Partnering with a consultant team from Progressive Urban Management Associate (PUMA), Community Builders staff convened key stakeholders throughout the corridor and City over a three-day period in October 2015. PUMA prepared a detailed market analysis examining the economic characteristics of the larger West Park Street area, revealing opportunities for new development. Focus groups convened with local developers, business owners, and residents relayed challenges and opportunities within the corridor. Citizens participated in an on-line questionnaire and in-person workshop to communicate their vision for the corridor, and offer ideas for improvement. A final report summarized the project and outcomes.

Outcomes

Using this project as a model, local leaders see the public engagement and project design elements of this project as transferrable to other corridors within the city. Through the focus groups and public workshops, residents envision West Park Street as a mixed-use, aesthetically pleasing, clean and safe Corridor. It should be pedestrian friendly and consider accommodating other modes such as biking and trolley transit. Stakeholders enjoy the existing businesses along the Corridor and would like to see additional commercial uses that are neighborhood serving and preserve important historic character.

Key Recommendations

  • Design and build a walkable street. The Montana Department of Transportation is in the planning stages of reconstructing West Park Street. Local leaders should engage with MDT to incorporate pedestrian-oriented features in the redesign.
  • Create attractive character. Incorporate art, placemaking and beautification enhancements into the current streetscape to make it more interesting and create a feeling of safety.
  • Assist with property maintenance. Develop new and leverage existing programs—both financial and labor-based—that can help existing landowners maintain their historic properties.
  • Invite investment with predictable zoning. Streamline certain portions of the zoning code and approval process to reduce confusion among the development community. 

Report

Read the final report

Video

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