The City of Missoula and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency have received a boost from a local company led by Nick Checota, owner of Stonefly, LLC and Logjam Productions to help complete the planning of the Riverfront Triangle project.

Prior to the meeting at the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, Checota took a moment to visit with KGVO News about his involvement with the project.

“One of the components of the project is to move the conference center to a broader use events center,” began Checota, also the owner of the Wilma Theater, The Top Hat and the Kettlehouse Amphitheater. “With that, we bring a lot of expertise on how to run an events center, given that we run multiple venues currently.”

Checota said prior to moving to Missoula he had considerable experience as a real estate developer, primarily with multi-million dollar medical facilities that required specific skills in technology.

“The buildings we did in the healthcare world were ambulatory surgery centers and imaging centers and neuroscience centers, so very complex types of buildings, so a project of this size, even though I haven’t done in a little while, is something that I have had a lot of experience with,” he said. “So, I bring both the development skills along with the hospitality/entertainment side, as well.”

Checota said his vision of the project will enhance and complement the Clark Fork River corridor.

“It will be a very important building along the river front, for starters,” he said. “You’re going to have a large promenade that will go along the river front and integrate with the river path. The building itself is going to look very much like a civic center. It’s going to be a 60,000 square foot event center, so we’re bringing that vibe to the project. It will have a very natural materials selection, and since we’re along the river, we’ll have a natural tie to the scenery in that location. On top of the event center, there’ll be a hotel which will be a bit of a tower, so it will be a 10 story facility. The first three quarters will be hotel rooms and then the upper floors will be condominium units”

Checota said a project of this size will be a considerable investment.

“We’ll have $15 to 20 million of equity into the project in total, and we as a developer will take a big portion of that, but we’re looking to partner with equity investors. I’ve talked to several, but I’ve also talked to several local investors which would be my first choice,” he said. “If we can bring a group of local investors together who have a stake in this community, that’s what we’d like to do, but if not, then we can raise money from traditional equity sources.”

MRA’s Chris Behan was enthusiastic over the possibilities that the completed project could bring to Missoula.

“This expands the possibility to not only have more music, but different kinds of music,” said Behan. “It also enables us to look at all kinds of cultural events and trade shows that we can’t do right now indoors. I think that this will raise the general economy if the entire city, particularly downtown.”

Behan said that Nick Checota’s involvement will bring visitors from all over the country to events in Missoula, because he already has through his other performance venues.

“He said that 45 percent of all the people who attend concerts at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater are not from Missoula, not from our trade area. A lot of people are actually flying here to see these concerts. It truly is outside money coming in, spending money and then leaving, only to return for other events.”

The Missoula City Council met on Wednesday afternoon to hear a special presentation from Checota and the MRA and to answer questions from city officials.

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