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Monday, March 19, 2018

This view inside a Makoshika Estate apartment last year shows the deterioration of the building as the ceiling has separated from the walls.

Makoshika Estates fix could cost millions

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The fix for the problem-plagued Makoshika Estates senior living facility will not come cheap.

In fact, it could cost nearly as much to fix the facility as it did to build it.

Makoshika Estates, which is owned by a partnership between the Dawson County Economic Development Council and Action for Eastern Montana, was built in 2009 at a cost of $2.7 million dollars. Since it opened, the building has settled into the ground, causing increasingly severe structural damage.

Now, an engineering review by professional engineering firm KLJ has determined that the recommended solution to the building’s issues could cost up to $2 million. The final report is still pending.

“We know the final solution recommended by KLJ is going to be $1.5 million to $2 million,” said Action director Brian Steffen. “It’s going to be expensive. The cost is really high, and I understand where people would be shocked.”

To fund repairs, Action and the DCEDC are asking the city to apply for a Community Development Block Grant on Makoshika Estates’ behalf.

Last May, in a surprise move, Gov. Steve Bullock awarded a $250,000 CDBG grant to the city for Makoshika Estates to use towards fixing the troubled facility. 

Nearly half of that grant – $104,350 of it – was used to conduct the engineering study.

The Makoshika Estates partners are hoping to get another CDBG grant this year. The maximum grant amount is $450,000. CDBG grants can only be applied for through a municipality, hence the city’s involvement.

As for why the Makoshika Estates partnership isn’t pursuing legal action against the facility’s designers and builders to force them to fund repairs, Steffen addressed that issue directly with city council members at Wednesday’s Finance, Utilities, Property and Recreation Committee.

Steffen said after discussing the matter with legal counsel, it was determined that suing the architect would set off a chain of lawsuits that could take up to three years to settle and cost the Makoshika Estates partnership up to $300,000 in litigation fees.

Steffen did say that didn’t mean legal action to recoup repair costs was out of the question.

“I don’t want to take anything off the table, but I do want to pursue repairing it as soon as possible,” he said.

He also stressed, however, that there was no way the Makoshika Estates partnership could fund repairs on their own.

“If we don’t apply for the funding, then we’re just looking at the non-profit groups involved in it, and we don’t have those kinds of funds,” Steffen said.

The FUPR Committee will hold the public hearing at 7 p.m. on March 31 at Sagebrush Alley Senior Center. The committee will meet directly after the hearing to decide whether or not to recommend the city move forward with the CDBG application.

Get more on this story in the March 16 issue of the Ranger-Review
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