The head of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency said on Monday that Southgate Mall does not have to repay monies from Tax Increment Financing (TIF’s) after being sold, for just one reason, no monies actually went directly to the mall.

MRA Executive Director Ellen Buchanan said the city has been trying to connect Brooks Street to Reserve Street for many years, but was unable to do so until the mall began its remodeling project.

“The tax increment money involved in this particular project is to pay for a public street that was built through the mall,” said Buchanan. “That area has never been penetrated by a public street, north-south, or east-west. So, what this does is it pays for a connection between Brooks and Reserve Street that the city has wanted to accomplish since at least the mid 1990’s and it’s been showing up in the long range transportation plans. So, that’s what the money’s for, it’s for a city street.”

Buchanan said the mall’s five year plan to remodel opened up a right of way for the streets to be connected.

“We were able to get a right of way from the mall owners to do it,” she said. “We’ve never had right of ways through the mall properties, it’s just been a series of driveways. Even back when that was a lumber operation, it was not penetrated by streets and was never subdivided.”

Buchanan believes there may be more opportunities for cooperation with Peter Lambros and his real estate connections.

“One of the things that Peter Lambros talked about was that this would free them up to develop the property that’s south of Bob Wards, which is a fairly large tract of land that we’ve been looking at for as long as I’ve been here, that’s about 14 years, and this will free them up to focus on that. Also, because of the resources the new owners will bring to the mall, the long range plan for the mall will probably be realized more quickly.”