Downtown Parking Area Construction - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Downtown Parking Area Construction

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BILLINGS -

Construction seems to be going on everywhere. Two parking areas in particular are examples of the continued economic development in downtown Billings.

Downtown organizations are getting busier and construction is taking place to accommodate the area's growth. The Billings Public Library is putting in a new 100-space parking garden.

"Our number of new cards in the first quarter of this year was up 230 percent over the first quarter of last ear,” said Bill Cochran, Billings Public Library director. “Checkouts are up. Traffic is up and once the parking lot's in place, it's just going to be constantly busy."

Cochran says the project should be done around mid-August and will be as green as possible, using rainwater to irrigate the garden. Another construction project in downtown’s Historic District is getting close to opening in mid-June. The private retail spaces at the condo-style Empire Parking Garage are sold out.

"You look down Montana Avenue, new businesses are coming in both north and south,” said Greg Krueger, Downtown Billings Alliance development director. “We’ve got some amazing businesses on Minnesota Avenue. About the only way downtown can continue to grow is up and out south."

Krueger says the previously vacant spaces along Montana Avenue are filling up. "And that's important because it is the highest valued land in the city,” he said. “And we want that land to be paying taxes. ‘We’ being the corporate citizens of Billings, Montana. That's how come the city can grow is because of the density downtown and the high value."

The DBA reports there are 41 restaurants and 25 shops within a 10-minute walking distance from Skypoint. "There isn't another spot in the city that can do that,” Krueger said. “And it hasn't come without investment and a lot of trial and error, but I think we're finally getting it right."

The Downtown Billings Alliance also says housing is in high demand downtown. Stay tuned this summer for the grand openings of both parking areas.

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