Bozeman, Mont., has always been a popular place to live. Native American tribes including the Blackfeet, Flathead, Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Sioux made their home in the area long before 19th century explorers such as William Clark (1806) and John Bozeman (1863) showed up.
People continue to converge on the town, founded in 1864. “Bozeman is a classic yet growing western town, a progressively thinking and diverse community with its roots firmly intact,” says Dan Harding, a principal of local firm Intrinsik Architecture. “It's a college town, a ski town, a fly fishing mecca, and a wonderful hub to experience the Yellowstone ecosystem and the rest the northern Rockies has to offer.”
But popularity has a cost, according to Bozeman resident and Comma-Q Architecture founder and principal Ben Lloyd. “The greatest challenge is to preserve what's great about Bozeman yet allow for growth,” he says. “There is a trend to create ‘museums' out of our historic neighborhoods. ... Many of the buildings being built today are as important as those constructed 100 years ago.”
City manager Chris Kukulski is intimately involved in the process. “It's hard to maintain quaint Main Street when there's so much demand to build things that look like everywhere else,” he admits. “There's been a lot of focus in the last decade on quality design and development. Not that we don't have some mistakes and regrets, but we also have lessons learned.”
2007 residents: 36,500; 2000–2006 job growth: 21 percent, mostly in technology.
Class A office rents: $18/s.f., central business district; $16/s.f., suburbs.
2007 median home sale price: $329,900.
- Vibrant historic downtown
- Montana State University
- Northern Rockies location
- Fuel costs affect tourism
- Preservation/growth balance
- Housing affordability
In 2007, the City Council voted unanimously to make LEED for Neighborhood Development certification a condition for approval of a proposed subdivision. “If they apply that to [other] projects, it will make a community-changing contribution over the next 10 years,” says architect Kath Williams of Kath Williams + Associates. “That's surprising leadership from such a small town council.”