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Is Billings the Best Bet for Commercial Real Estate?

Billings, Montana Emerges as Commercial Real Estate Opportunity 

Get the scoop on the potential Billings holds for commercial real estate investors.

Billings, Montana, the second fastest-growing city in the state, is often overshadowed by Bozeman and Missoula. But Billings is fast emerging as a destination for new residents and tourists alike – with good reason.

Over the past decade, 13% of Montana’s population growth occurred in Billings. With little fanfare, the city has been noted by the Wall Street Journal as an emerging hot housing market, and in 2016, Outdoor Magazine called it the best city in America. 

So what’s Billing’s secret sauce? A solid, diverse economy, coupled with a dynamic downtown and outdoor access. With room to expand and an active housing industry, Billings has maintained affordability for its residents – something that Bozeman, Billings, Kalispell, and Helena struggle to accomplish. 

Economy

Over the past decade, Billings added over 9,000 new jobs. Growing fields include healthcare, accommodation and food services, and transportation/warehousing. 

Billings is a center for healthcare in eastern Montana, an otherwise sparsely populated area. The city handles nearly 30,000 patients each year and accounts for 25% of the state’s hospital beds. In 2023, Montana’s first medical school will open in Billings, operated by Rocky Vista University. It’s a pivotal move to further cement Billing’s role as a primary medical destination for Central and Eastern Montana and Wyoming.

Downtown Billings houses a vibrant core of walkable retail and locally-owned restaurants. The city has enough breweries to allow for a walking beer tour, a popular option for people in town for the conferences and meetings that the city attracts. Billings also serves as a hub for tourists seeking outdoor adventures, with easy access to Yellowstone National Park and a long list of other outdoor destinations. 

Billings is well-located at the intersection of I-94 and I-90. The city is also a part of the Class 1 rail system used by BNSF. The airport serves passengers with direct flights to 10 cities across the US, with the capacity to serve cargo and wide-body planes. With this diversity of transportation options, Billings is a hub for distribution.

Billings Real Estate Opportunities

The growing medical industry in Billings will continue to drive demand for office and specialty medical space. Build-to-suit opportunities will likely emerge as the medical school raises the city’s profile as a medical services hub.

Warehouse space is in demand across Montana – and Billings is no exception. The Opportunity Zone in Billings is located in an area conducive to the construction of distribution and warehouse facilities. Dock-high loading and ceilings that accommodate racking are priorities for those seeking Montana warehousing.  

Following greater Montana trends, hotels and retail space are also set to be in demand. The downtown core is especially important for small business retailers and breweries. The city also has multiple options for the development of build-to-suit big box retail. Hotels to serve the growing tourism market will be important. Additionally, Billings serves a large radius of medical consumers. As a result, it’s an attractive market for the development of extended stay hotels. 

Lastly, for residential and multifamily developers and investors, Billings is an alternative to the high-cost markets in Bozeman, Missoula, and Kalispell. Demand for housing is strong in Billings, for both apartments, and for-sale homes. Opportunities for a diversity of housing types are available in Billings, from mixed-use multifamily to master-planned residential communities.

Billings offers commercial real estate investors and developers the opportunity to access a growing market. At this time, Billings has not yet seen the rapid escalation in costs and values that other Montana cities have seen. 

Billings, Great Falls, and Butte are all set to emerge as high-growth markets. At this time, Billings is well-poised to see an acceleration in demand for commercial real estate. With a thriving demand for medical offices, a growing market for retail and hospitality, and demand for warehouse and industrial space, Billings is a popular focus for investors.