Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Community Building Forum series

Town Center on build-out, connectivity and a legacy of community

The Town Center taking shape right now has been decades in the making, according to Ryan Hamilton, project manager of Big Sky Town Center, who works with the Simkins family.

“In those early documents, I remember reading that we projected it would be a 20 year project. Well, now we are 22 years in and about 60% built out,” he said. “So, there has been about one commercial building a year give or take and a bunch of residential units.”

A good amount of vacant land is still to be developed. One major move for infrastructure that occurred this summer was the completion of a large parking lot, which will service three or four buildings and some residential units in the future.

Recent projects in Town Center include: BASE Community Center, 76 Town Center Avenue also called Building 4. A mixed use building called The Franklin Building by Haas Builders is coming soon, Uplands View Condos – John Romney’s 26 condos as a for sale product, and the Lot 6A building has been finished and a tenant is forthcoming.

Now, there are about 75 businesses operating in Town Center. Entrepreneurship and locally owned businesses are important to this region, but especially to Big Sky, he noted.

Connectivity and walkability have also been emphasized in the planning.

“We really designed Town Center around the parks and trails and around the gathering spaces,” he said.

Parks, trails and recreation are important to the community and to the Simkins family.

“We’ve supported trails and trail extensions and trail easements over the years even as far back as 2001. We set aside 15 or 18 miles of trail easements some of which still have yet to be built: Hummocks and Uplands Trails, Ralph’s Pass Trail, those were a part of that early easement,” he said.

A focal point for the company is to build community and relationships.

The Bozeman-based family business Simkins-Hallin, Inc. has been in business over 70 years. They purchased a ranch in Big Sky in 1970 after Chet Huntley announced plans for Big Sky. Entitlement, acquisition and early planning for Town Center began in 1980, with the first planned use development happening in the 1990s, Hamilton explained. The first residential project was completed in 2003 and the first commercial unit, First Security Bank, was completed in 2005.

“This is a legacy project for the Simkins so they are in their third generation of Land Stewardship and community involvement,” he said.

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