*City of Helena Recommends Approval
April 10th, 2023
Nestled in the west hills of Helena, residents of the Westside Woods neighborhood will have easy access to acres of parks and miles of trails. They will be within walking distance of two public schools and close to all that nearby historic downtown Helena has to offer. This neighborhood will also feature new & improved trail systems, including art installations by locally-renowned artists throughout its core. Sussex has partnered with land conservationists and artists to create our vision for this beloved landscape with expansive views, open space, and connectivity to the local Mount Helena trail network.
Westside Woods is proposed on a vacant 59-acre parcel just south of US Highway 12 designated by the City of Helena as an Urban Growth Area. In-filling the existing neighborhood and avoiding the urban sprawl that is depleting our farmlands and water tables, Westside Woods has been carefully designed to enhance the beloved Westside of Helena. This neighborhood will offer a variety of housing with 92 single-family residential lots, 3 multi-family lots with 80 condos, and 5 open-space pocket-park lots (totaling over 13 acres). This will provide various home sizes and prices to cater to mixed income levels.
The Nitty Gritty
- Meets the City of Helena’s Growth Policy
- Incorporates all City Standards & Subdivision Regulations
- Helps the housing shortage in Helena
- No wells or septic systems
- Less dense than surrounding neighborhoods
- Paved roads, sidewalks, & gutters
- Streetlights & fire hydrants
- City sewer & water
- Fire protection
- Improved crosswalks at Kessler School
Variety of Housing
- Small and large single-family homes
- More affordable multi-family condos
Trails & Parks
- Improving & expanding the existing trail system
- Art Trail featuring installations by local artists
- 13.5+ acres of parkland and greenspace
Although the land is currently in Lewis and Clark County, Sussex believes it is more responsible, safer, and sustainable to annex Westside Woods into the City of Helena. Development within the city will require Sussex to install services such as water, sewer, streets, curbs and gutters, fire hydrants, street lights, and boulevard sidewalks that meet (and sometimes exceed) city requirements. These upgrades will make the new and surrounding neighborhoods safer and easier for the city to maintain; it will also help boost the city’s tax base and conserve our natural resources by protecting water quality and use.
Additionally, Westside Woods is not designed to maximize the allowable density for the zoning of this land. For comparison, examine Overlook Estates, the last subdivision built in this area, on the northern edge of Westside Woods. Overlook Estates has 190 units on just over 22 acres of land; Westside Woods will have 172 units on nearly 59 acres. This means that Westside Woods is nearly 300% LESS DENSE than Overlook Estates.
Our vision for Westside Woods was born out of respect for the land. The site is challenging due to its topography with steep slopes and several ephemeral drainages that cross through the property. The roads and lots have been laid out to limit cuts and fill as much as possible while meeting all codes, regulations, and laws.
This land inspires us all. We treasure it and want to honor it with responsible development while also meeting our community’s needs. To create our vision for this project, we have partnered with land conservationists, engineers, city staff, and traffic experts to help guide us and protect the beauty of this land for all to enjoy. The densities proposed in this subdivision are compatible with the older, surrounding neighborhood densities. There is a mix of lot sizes to provide more compatibility with the existing land uses adjacent to Westside Woods.
Not only will the proposed streets inside Westside Woods meet all City and state standards, but we are improving the streets adjacent to the subdivision with paved roads and boulevard sidewalks to enhance the safety of pedestrians and drivers alike.
City Annexation Benefits:
- Paved roads, sidewalks, & gutters on neighboring roads.
- Streetlights & fire hydrants
- Fire- and weed-mitigated open spaces
- Improved trails
- Increased tax base for the city
- City sewer & water
- Improved crosswalks and traffic calming devices at Kessler School.
- Traffic-calming devices added to Granite Avenue e.g. a compact roundabout.
Trails and Open Space
The subdivision is proposed with 13.5+ acres of open spaces that maintain large areas around residential tracts that will protect steeper areas and drainages from being developed. This will preserve and protect the natural aesthetics of this land and also provide recreational opportunities with a new trail system.
Westside Wood’s is proposing to donate over 13.5+ acres of fire- and weed-mitigated open space to the City of Helena. We will also build an improved trail system consisting of over a mile of trails within the open space areas that will be graded and compacted much like our trail around Heron Creek. Sussex will work with the City of Helena and Prickly Pear Land Trust to plan and construct the trails in the open space parcels before donating them to the city. This will enable public access to the city park and trail systems on Mount Helena so treasured by the community.
All proposed trails will be open to the public for public access. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to utilize the proposed sidewalks and streets to access existing open space to the south of the subdivision and connect to the Mount Helena trail system.
What’s In A Name?
The Streets and Trails
In homage to the arts, we chose to name the streets in Westside Woods after four inspiring local artists. Each will bear the surnames of those who have undertaken careers as locally renowned artists who share an appreciation for the land, space, history, and the world around us. In addition, each of these accomplished artists will create an installation for the future Art Trail. Click the photos below to learn the inspiring stories behind each artist.
Steven Young Lee
Far from small town Ohio where she grew up, the west allowed Amy Brakeman Livezey to blossom into an explorer of landscape and character. Her first true medium of expression was filmmaking, but soon after settling in Montana in 1993 Amy turned to painting. Her work combines realistic figures with abstract elements, inviting viewers to engage with history, time, and emotion. She is now a full time artist residing in Helena, Montana with her husband, artist Dale Livezey.
“My paintings are explorations of history using paint, photographic finds, pieces of paper old and new, and a variety of tools to build up and then mine the images for a fresh look at the past. Layers and abstraction serve as an homage to the complexity of this endeavor – the chaos of the moment and our ever changing cultural perspectives.”
Joe Crowley was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Co., and studied Visual Arts at the University of Northern Colorado in 2000. He initially came to Montana in 2003 for a family visit and a 10-week course at the Archie Bray Foundation that proved life-changing. During his visit, he discovered an incredible group of people from the Clay Arts Guild and feels that he greatly benefits from the magnificent influences and talent of the guild members and other artists in Helena.
“A clear mind and thoughtful concentration make the best pots. I am very proud and honored to be living my life as one who takes in the world and creates from it. I invite anyone to interact with my work and enjoy its function, and I will continue creating.”
Dale Livezey began his focused study of the Montana landscape in 1978 when, at the age of 20, he left behind the Ohio farm country where he was raised. Always an independent spirit, Dale’s study in oil painting has been self-directed over the course of his decades painting.
An intimate experiential knowledge of light and natural forms guides his highly color-centric compositions. Time outdoors is a key element in his approach, although paintings are largely produced in the studio.
Steven Young Lee
Steve received his BFA and MFA in Ceramics from Alfred University. Originally from Chicago, he lives in Helena with his wife, Lisa and their son and daughter Gavin and Florence.
Steven Young Lee was the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana from 2006-2022. In 2004-05, he lectured and taught at numerous universities throughout China as part of a one-year cultural and educational exchange in Jingdezhen, Shanghai and Beijing. In 2005-6 he was a visiting professor at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.
He is represented by the Duane Reed Gallery, Ferrin Contemporary and The Archie Bray Foundation Gallery. His work has been collected by the Smithsonian Museum, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, Korea, as well as many private collections.