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Billings' hottest piece of real estate? City Hall hits the market

By Andrea Lutz,


BILLINGS- In the heart of Billings, a dream property awaits— at least that’s how city officials see the original and historic Billings City Hall as it goes on the market.

Well, kind of.

The process for selling city hall is actually pretty complicated with numerous stipulations, according to John Caterino, the facilities manager with the City of Billings.

Caterino took MTN News inside the property to see the parts of the building the average resident of Billings never gets to see.

The building is about 38,000 square feet with three floors and a basement. Built in the 1940s and renovated with an addition in the 1990s, Billings City Hall is filled with touches that could be an architecture enthusiast’s dream.

“There’s certainly a lot of potential,” said Caterino. “There’s definitely historical value to the building.”

Caterino says selling city hall starts with the sale price, which he says is “subject to offer.” City staff is directed to sell what’s known as “real property” with a notice in the Yellowstone County News and notifying property owners within 300 feet.

Once all of that happens, Caterino says the City Council will submit a resolution to sell the property. Once that’s approved, city staff select the best proposals.

“We have toured some people around the space and our Realtor has said that of the four properties that we have on the market, two surface lots and a parking lot on North 27 th , that this one has the most interest,” he said.

Caterino seems to know every inch of the property and has all the keys to get access to it too, including the original jail cells upstairs that are accessible by a back house elevator where prisoners were once transported.

But that’s not even the coolest part of the building. Memorialized on the walls of the old jail cells are some incredible murals done by a former inmate.

Caterino is hoping the prospective developer will do something to keep and preserve the art, like the pink elephant.

The building offers any potential buyer plenty of bathrooms, a large boiler room to heat it all, massive space for storage, a couple of striking spiral staircases and you guessed it, the mayor’s office.

Caterino says the intricacies of the property are attractive to some developers, but work will need to be done to transform the building into the next generation of downtown Billings.

“Obviously some of the systems are dated,” he said. “So, I would assume that whoever purchases the building is going to do a complete gut.”

On that note, Caterino says city staff is hoping whoever buys the building will provide a need in the downtown core, with housing on the top floors and retail on the street level.

Regardless, Caterino says it’s an incredibly versatile space to buy.

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