Helena commission OKs urban renewal funds for Fire Tower rehab

Nolan Lister

Applicants seeking Helena’s tax increment financing district funds for various urban renewal projects must first submit an application form.

One of the questions on the form asks applicants “Do you own the property?”

The latest applicant to receive TIF funds responded to that particular question with “Owner since 1874 when it was originally built for $100.”

The applicant is the city of Helena, and the project is the long-sought-after rehabilitation of its historic Fire Tower known as “Guardian of the Gulch.”

Lewis and Clark County Heritage Preservation Officer Pam Attardo, with permission from Helena’s Parks, Recreation and Open Lands Department, applied for the final piece of the financial puzzle.

The $74,650 request was unanimously recommended for approval by the city’s downtown tax increment financing advisory board on a 7-0 vote during its Jan. 12 meeting. On Monday, the city commission approved that recommendation.

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The TIF funds represent only about 27% of the project’s total cost, about $279,000.

The application reveals Attardo and the heritage preservation office applied unsuccessfully for several grants in the past year to meet the project’s financial goals, including a Montana State Historic Preservation Office

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