Virginia firm nears deal to purchase Macy's building

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After months of speculation surrounding what will be the fate of Missoula’s historic Macy’s building downtown, the Independent confirmed today that the Charlottesville, Va.-based real estate investment firm Octagon Partners aims to purchase the Higgins Avenue structure.

“We are looking at the building to purchase,” says Octagon co-founder J.P. Williamson. “There’s a chance that if we move forward on the transaction it could close by year's end.”

Octagon focuses on transforming historic properties into retail and residential developments in college towns, thus far focusing its efforts largely in Virginia. “We’re definitely new to the Montana market,” Williamson says.

Octagon hasn’t been the only entity to express interest in the 130,000-square foot landmark. The University of Montana announced in June that it was looking into the viability of housing its Montana Museum of Art and Culture, comprised of more than 10,000 pieces of art, including work from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol. UM’s student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, reported this week that UM’s bid fell through.

Octagon’s Williamson declined to release details of specific negotiations with Macy’s to the Independent. “That’s all confidential until closing,” he says.

UPDATE: UM's Director of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Barbara Koostra, says UM has not fallen out of the running in its bid to purchase the Macy's building. Until Macy's announces otherwise, Koostra says UM's bid is still on the table. "We do not have any conclusive answers."

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