The old YMCA building in Uptown Butte could be restored to provide housing for 73 Montana Tech students for a price tag of $5.5 million.
Steve Hinick, a Butte architect, recently completed an analysis of the building for Butte-Silver Bow. The report was meant to determine the cost of restoring the building for use as a dorm as a way to reuse the structure, which sits at 405 W. Park St.
The price tag is a welcome figure that gives hope that the building can be revamped, said Karen Byrnes, county Community Development director.
“We are very encouraged by these numbers,” she said Thursday. “The numbers that came back show us that it is feasible and we think it would be a great reuse of the building.”
But Byrnes added that moving forward is a long way off. First it needs to be determined whether Tech wants to move forward and what type of ownership or partnership would be best suited to restore the building.
The structure is owned by the nonprofit Butte-Silver Bow Arts Foundation, which has operated it for years but struggled recently. The foundation two years ago put the building up for sale but has yet to get a buyer.
Don Blackketter, Tech chancellor, said the report is a key first step to determine whether the college would pursue a plan to renovate the building.
“It gives a realistic look at what that building would require and this one was really focused around costs,” he said. “We have a good place to start looking at what’s reasonable and what isn’t.”
The building had been inspected before the report and was found to be structurally sound. Hinick’s study delved into the specifics of what a renovation that includes upgrades to the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems. It also takes into account carpeting, furniture and fixtures, general construction and architectural and engineering fees.
Hinick’s proposal calls for dorm rooms on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. The third floor would be renovated as educational space and the second floor would be have an auditorium and offices. The old swimming pool would be covered with a floor to revamp the space for educational purposes.
The main floor would include a food service area. That doesn’t include a full kitchen but a facility where prepared foods could be warmed and served.
Hinick said he worked lounges into the floors to make them more comfortable for students.
“I made it nice and improved it a little more than the original Y was,” he said. “The needs of students are a little more complex today.”
One issue that could make it difficult to reuse the building, however, is parking. Hinick said he looked around the area but there aren’t options of county land, so it would likely require a private parcel to be purchased.
Byrnes said from here the county will have to look into options to move forward. The building could go into private ownership, Tech could buy it or it could be some type of public-private partnership. The ownership and plan will determine what type of grants and other funding sources could help pay for a project there.
“There are a lot of different options to consider,” she said.
The county and Tech will host a public meeting at some point soon to discuss the findings of the report.
— Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org