The lots currently occupied by the vacant old Pizza Hut at 716 W. Babcock Street and the home next to it may soon be the site of another four-story apartment building in Bozeman. The SOBO Lofts, or South Bozeman Lofts, is planned to hold 42 one-bedroom apartments and 3,000 square feet of commercial space facing Babcock Street.
The project came by surprise as it was approved by Bozeman planning director Marty Matsen without a public hearing before the Bozeman City Commission. Meanwhile, a heated debate over another mid-rise building is already underway for the Black-Olive proposal downtown. It will be interesting to see how the neighbors respond when they see this building go up.
Here’s a map of all the mid-rise buildings that are currently planned or being constructed in Bozeman:
Matsen said that the SOBO Lofts plans abides by Bozeman’s zoning code, which does not merit a hearing before city commissioners. The SOBO building is planned to be 50 feet high, and include 52 parking spaces, which Matsen says is well within the zoning requirements. In this B-2M zoning district, buildings are restricted to 60 feet in height. However, some residents have expressed concern about overflow parking and the scale of the building conflicting with the character of the neighborhood.
Projects that do not conflict with zoning codes are only reviewed by the city planning department, and approved by the planning director. Matsen also pointed out that the proposal was presented to a public hearing with the Design Review Board and was granted a unanimous approval, but it wasn’t as well attended as the packed meetings for the Black-Olive proposal.
What About the Black-Olive Project?
While the Black-Olive project was also within zoning requirements, it was unique in that the City Commission reclaimed authority over the city planning director’s approval after concerned neighbors appealed the planning director’s approval (A public hearing before the commission is scheduled for April 3rd). The same can be done for the SOBO Lofts if an “aggrieved party” appeals the decision to the City Commission—for a fee of $8,700.
The developer behind the SOBO project, Rob Pertzborn, from Intrinsik Architecture, says they are moving forward with the project, but he has not yet confirmed a date to begin construction. His next step is to apply for a demolition permit, then develop construction designs and seek bids from contractors.