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Organizers in Butte pitch Uptown Business Improvement District

A mining headframe in Uptown Butte, Montana with the city in view in the background.
Mike Albans
Montana Public Radio
A mining headframe in Uptown Butte, Montana with the city in view in the background.

Organizers in Uptown Butte are trying to convince property owners to chip-in money to clean up and advertise the neighborhood and local businesses. They recently went door-to-door advocating to bring more business to uptown, fill the many vacant retail spaces and make it a place where people can gather for events and live music.

“I think it can be one of the most amazing downtowns anywhere, with all of our historic buildings and interesting history and all of that,” said Shanna Adams, a co-owner of the Finlen Hotel and one of the organizers. “So I just see the potential for what it can be.“

Their pitch is to create what’s called a Business Improvement District.

That’s an economic development tool where property owners pay more in local property taxes. That money is then pooled into a special fund that pays for things like beautification, street maintenance, and promotional marketing for businesses in the district.

Advocates in Butte say it’s the largest town in Montana without an improvement district. Adams says forming one would give Uptown the tools and resources it needs to capitalize on the neighborhood’s potential.

Organizers need signed petitions from 60% of property owners within the proposed district to advance it.

At the Jade Hair Salon, owner Celeste Johnston says the organizers make a persuasive argument. “Yeah I think Uptown Butte definitely needs just a little bit of love to really encourage people to come up and support all of our businesses,” Johnston said. “And I think this could be a really great way for us to improve the way Uptown looks and feels.”

Organizers hope to gather petitions by the end of July. A county commission vote would then be needed to finalize the district.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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