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Getting stonewalled over Missoula's newest building

Getting stonewalled over Missoula's newest building



It seems like just a few months ago that, at almost any given moment, you could find a couple of Missoulians standing in front of the Wilma Building with their arms crossed, gazing eastward and looking distressed. That was back in the spring, when construction had begun on the Millennium Building, the closest thing Missoula will ever have to a skyscraper, cutting a figure for itself in the Garden City’s skyline with a profile all of eight stories tall. A few complaints were voiced back then, in hushed tones, that the building would block the view of Hellgate Canyon from downtown, which it does. But a few more opinions were added that the building itself is not bad-looking, seeming warm and solid and logical among downtown’s red-brick stalwarts that date back to the railroad era, which it does. But no matter how you look at it, the Millennium Building has become an irremovable fixture in Missoula’s public space. Which is why it seems so odd that so many people responsible for it refuse to discuss it.

Recently, the Independent called Associated Agency, the management company handling the Millennium Building, to get an update on when the project will be finished, how much it has cost, how much room is left to lease, and so on. But the cool-toned secretary who answered the phone assured us that no one there knows any of that—and if they did, they wouldn’t tell.

“There’s no one here who can do that,” the receptionist rumbled.

“Can I leave a message in the hopes that someone will call me back?”

“No. No one will call you back.”

“Well, why not?

“Because they choose not to do it. That’s why.”

“Thanks. You’ve been very helpful.”

Now what was that all about? It’s not like we were going to quiz them on the Universal Building Code or anything. Fortunately, it was just a few minutes later that we spoke to the project’s chief architect, Dennis Greeno of Oz Architects, who gladly shared some of the building’s vital statistics with us. But only some. Part of the caginess surrounding the Millennium, it seems, could be explained by the fact that the project is several months behind schedule.

“Murphy’s Law is alive and well when you’re building a building,” Greeno says. “When anything can go wrong, it will.” The Millennium has stayed in keeping with that edict, he notes, by way of several minor setbacks—from a brick delivery that was three weeks late to a battery of fire and code inspections that no building in Missoula has had to undergo before. “It is a high-rise building, so it has to go through a series of tests that most buildings don’t,” he notes. “It has a lot more stringent requirements.” About 75 percent of the Millennium’s office and apartment space has been leased, he says, including three of the four corner penthouses. But Greeno politely demurs when asked who owns the Millennium and what price tag it will carry.

County records show the owner of the new tower to be the stealthily monikered Millennium Building, LLC, a group of private investors led by Associated Agency member and director of Glacier Bancorp Allen Fetscher. When the group announced its skyward plans last year, it projected the cost of the building to come in around $5 million. For more information on how to move into Missoula’s most mysterious building, call Associated Agency at 721-2200. If you dare.

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