Buildout: Construction begins on last lot on South Haynes next week

Jack’s Auto Sales will fill in the final piece of the puzzle in the South Haynes Avenue commercial district in Miles City.

In 1987 there were 33 businesses along South Haynes. Once Jack’s is built there will be 55 businesses along the 15-block stretch of highway, and all of the lots on Miles City’s busiest business street will be full. 

The sounds of construction will fill the air along the thoroughfare this spring.

First Interstate Bank’s new location is under construction in the 300 block of South Haynes. Bank Branch President Jeff Rodenbaugh said everything is on track to open May 1.

Jack’s Auto Sales will follow, with an opening planned for mid-June. Ground will be broken next week.

The buildout has been a long time coming.

Frank’s Body Shop moved to South Haynes Avenue in 1974. It was a lonely location at the time, with only KATL Radio and Interstate Exxon for neighbors, said owner Tim Stoltz.

Stoltz said his family had no idea Haynes would take off like it did when they moved the business. He watched over the years as more and more businesses began to build on that edge of town.

“It’s all good. It’s progress,” Stoltz said, noting he expects future development to continue to shift to the south of Interstate 94.

It’s the path of least resistance for growth.

West of town is mostly federal land at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory. The land east of town is largely state-owned. Neither is available for development. 

And north of the Yellowstone River is the steep Airport Hill, then airport land and agricultural land, with limited commercial opportunities.

That leaves the focus for future development on land adjacent to Highway 59 south of the interstate. That area has already seen a lot of development with new hotels, the Cenex Zip Trip convenience store,  RMC/Bobcat and the Truck Wash added to the roster of businesses.

When asked about the dwindling space for commercial development in town, Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Laney described the situation as “an interesting problem to have.” 

He said that while frontage on commercial corridors is dwindling, there are plenty of places for “destination” businesses — those that don’t rely on drive-by traffic — to land.

“We have commercial property available in a number of spots that would be good for destinations shops,” he said. He named empty lots on North Haynes Avenue near Leighton Boulevard, as well as on Main Street to the west of Haynes.

The supply of existing buildings is also small. There are only a few empty buildings available on the 11-block stretch of Main Street in downtown Miles City. There are also some available commercial buildings that need renovating on Valley Drive East, Laney said.

Laney said he, too, believes most of the future development will be along Highway 59 south of the interstate.