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Uptown Butte business owners champion the formation of a business improvement district

Uptown Butte Business Improvement District
Posted at 11:29 AM, Jun 03, 2024

BUTTE — According to data provided by the Uptown Butte Business Improvement District steering committee, the Mining City is the only major Montana city that currently does not host a business improvement district. But that could change if property owners within the geographical designation sign on to create one.

Uptown Butte businesses are learning more about a proposed business improvement district that could help enhance the neighborhood and Butte’s economy. Over several lunch hours, a group of volunteers with the Uptown Butte Master Plan Association have been meeting with property owners and businesses located within a geographic area identified as a proposed business improvement district.

"We are unique. We work hard to keep Uptown Butte looking the way it always did. It’s a special place. It should be celebrated, and I think this is a great opportunity to do that," says Ann Finch-Johnston, the owner of Second Edition Books.

The bookstore has been a Butte staple for half a century, established by her mother 38 years ago. Finch-Johnston took ownership 12 years ago. Before the meeting, she signed a petition that will go before the council once 60 percent of property owners agree to create the business improvement district that could bring in over $200,000 from roughly 250 property owners in the area.

"Uptown Butte is our commercial core. It’s so important that the Uptown area is successful. This will drive the economy for the greater community," says Shanna Adams.

Adams is the co-owner of the Finlen Hotel and president of the Uptown Butte Master Plan Association. After the Master Plan was adopted by Butte commissioners in 2022, the group is now working towards implementation.

Adams says adopting the business improvement district will help move projects along. Once established, property owners will pay a tax that is individually appraised by taking into account the size of a business or building. Adams says for the majority of business owners, the cost will fall around $600 a year and the money will go directly to the BID.

"The Business Improvement District is critical for Uptown Butte to have a continuous annual supply of funding to help move these improvements forward," says Adams.

Adams says once 60 percent of property owners sign the BID petition, it will be brought before the council of commissioners and the group will then be able to form a board of directors who will be able to make decisions on what the money will fund. She says projects like snow removal, pedestrian lighting, and way signage to help visitors explore the area, along with adding more public art will be some of the projects that the BID board will focus on in the near future.

The group has already held multiple meet-ups with businesses, but Adams says one difficulty in reaching their goal of collecting signatures from 60 percent of businesses in the proposed area is linking up with out-of-state property owners.

Adams and other volunteers plan to hit the streets and take the petitions door-to-door to meet with anyone who hasn't been able to attend presentations.

"I think Uptown Butte is a real big strength for our community. I think it could be even better," says Finch-Johnston.

Adams agrees. She says the BID is collecting petitions from property owners through August. The Mining City will begin to see improvements to crosswalks in Uptown Butte beginning in June 2024.