Location: Formerly two neighborhoods. Northside is north of the train tracks and the Scott Street Bridge and runs east to Greenough Drive and west to just past North Russell Street. The Westside runs from the Bitterroot Spur Trail north of the Clark Fork River west to Reserve Street.
Character: Suburban, some industrial
Features: Missoula Outdoor Cinema, Zootown Arts Community Center
Public Schools: Lowell Elementary
Parks: Westside, White Pine, Northside, Little McCormick
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Life in the Northside / Westside neighborhood
Revitalized neighborhood emphasizes community
By Breeana Laughlin for Real Estate Marketplace
One of the oldest neighborhoods in Missoula is considered to be up-and-coming by many of its residents.
The historic neighborhood has undergone a renewed spirit in recent years. New projects have rallied residents and brought the community together.
“I would say it’s a hip area. It’s an area where you’ll get a very diverse group of neighbors, and it’s a very welcome atmosphere,” said Debbie Saylor, a Northside / Westside neighborhood resident since 2006.
“In the five years I’ve lived here, they’ve done a lot of revitalization in the neighborhood. It’s been great seeing that process. The community garden is new. The apartments that I live in have been redone.
They are energy efficient and get a third of their energy from renewable resources. That seems to be the theme that’s going on in the neighborhood,” Saylor said.
The Northside, Westside and residential Downtown developed largely because of their relationship with the Northern Pacific Railroad and St. Patrick Hospital. The Northside and Westside now boast a mix of historic homes, remodels and new construction. Homes remain affordable, and many residents appreciate the proximity of the neighborhood to downtown Missoula.
The neighborhood attracts a mix of residents from retirees and working professionals, to students and young families.
“I think it represents what Missoula is in a really good way,” Saylor said. “It really feels like a neighborhood and a community, and I like that a lot.”
The neighborhood features a variety of innovative attractions. These include the Missoula Community Co-op, a cooperatively-owned food co-op, the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project, or MUD, a nonprofit model of sustainable living emphasizing education and demonstration, and the ZooTown Arts Community Center, which brings working artists, artists-to-be, children, and community members together.
The Missoula Outdoor Cinema showcases classic films, shorts, animation, and local films with weekly projections on side of Whittier School during the summer months.
“I like participating in that and seeing a whole bunch of people from the area come around and enjoy a very community, family-friendly atmosphere,” Saylor said.
Neighborhood parks and community gardens also attract residents to come together for a common purpose.
The North Missoula Community Development Center has been the driver behind many revitalization projects, and continues its work to improve the historic neighborhood. In the past, Missoula’sNorthside and Downtown neighborhoods had the city’s highest turnover in tenancy, lowest home ownership rates, and had for a number of years a reputation for crime (perhaps unfairly) and disinvestment, according to the development center.
There is strong indication that this reputation is beginning to change and the Northside is increasingly seen as a place for young families to get started. More and more, people are starting to look to the Northside and Westside neighborhoods as places where “community” is happening, the development center reported.
“I think unfortunately, there might be a little bit of a stigma of the Westside or Northside as being a rough area in Missoula, but in reality that’s not the case,” neighborhood resident Saylor said.
“I really enjoy it for what it has to offer with the variety of people that live here. I would like to see people continue to invest in the area and continue to be involved in community events,” she said. “It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood in Missoula.”
Breeana Laughlin is a freelance writer for the Missoulian Advertising Department.