Brownfield Loan Plays Major Role in Downtown Revitalization

GFDA’s Brownfields Program offers a low interest rate clean up loan to make the re-purposing of old buildings approachable and feasible.

Learn more about our Brownfields Program

“The grandest sight I ever beheld.” That’s how American explorer Meriwether Lewis described the Great Falls of the Missouri River during his and William Clark’s landmark expedition across the uncharted West in 1805. More than two centuries later, the Great Falls Montana Development Authority (GFDA) is doing its best to keep Great Falls looking grand as ever by encouraging cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties.

“The Arvon Block used to be a place you wouldn’t go near at night.”

The Arvon Block on 1st Avenue South, is one of the oldest buildings in Great Falls. Built in the late 1800s, the building was one of the earliest livery stables in the region. “The Arvon Block used to be a place you wouldn’t go near at night” says Lillian Sunwall, Great Falls Brownfields Program Manager. There was still animal feed in the building when the cleanup began.

Developers received a $128,000 low-interest loan to clean up hazardous materials at the site, including lead paint and asbestos.

Developers received a $128,000 low-interest loan to clean up hazardous materials at the site, including lead paint and asbestos. The Arvon Block building now houses an Irish pub and restaurant, and a boutique hotel, all while retaining the building’s historic character.

Through relationships facilitated by GFDA, the Arvon Block was able to leverage other funding sources. For example, because it retained much of the original façade and woodwork, the Arvon Block redevelopment qualified for tax abatement as well as tax credits related to historic preservation.

One of the keys to GFDA’s success is knowing when and whom to ask for help. You don’t have to be an expert in cleanup and redevelopment. Leverage all the expertise you can. Great Falls Development Authority has a pool of local environmental professionals who oversee the cleanup work, and we depend on our local historian to look into the old buildings and advise us on ways to preserve the town’s history.

To learn more about The Arvon Block, visit their website at https://www.hotelarvon.com

If you have a building or site you are looking at purchasing, before you sign on the dotted line, contact Lillian Sunwall for information and tools on how to get started at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org or by phone at (406) 750-1253.