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Right in the heart of the Yellowstone region lies the Big Sky Town Center, a remarkable mixed-use commercial and residential community that is the natural gathering place of the area, where everyone comes together. The Town Center is a centrally-located, pedestrian-oriented village core that is becoming the ‘downtown’ and heartbeat of the Big Sky community. With approximately 20% of the 165-acre project now complete, the businesses and residences being built in the Town Center are part of the new downtown fabric of Big Sky, Montana.
Evidence of the success of the Town Center can be seen in the new businesses that have opened their doors recently, including the Creighton Block Gallery, The Gourmet Gals, Monica’s Salon and Day Spa, Alpine Property Management, Shuttle to Big Sky and Taxi, a couple of yet-to-be-named restaurants. Last summer, the Town Center emerged as the place to be for community events and gatherings, which drew enough people to help convince these business owners to open up shop in the Town Center. This summer’s event lineup included the popular weekly summer Farmers Market featuring up to 80 vendors; the Arts Council’s free weekly Music in the Mountains outdoor concert series; the Chamber’s Country Fair and Festival of the Arts; the Big Sky Flyfishing Festival, the ‘Big Air in Big Sky’ freestyle motorcycle event; and even a Montana Shakespeare in the Parks performance. Winter events include the Big Sky Christmas Stroll, Pancakes with Santa, a new outdoor hockey and skating rink, and the YCCF’s Winter Warm-Up.
It is exciting to witness the continuing development of a small mountain town and watch residents and visitors gather to identify with its energy. A true ‘center of town’ feeling that has historically been absent in Big Sky has appeared as though it were always there. The feeling of an identity now allows one to imagine how the future ‘Main Street’ will be created with a vibrant retail and entertainment district which will reward the visitor with the expectation of diverse shopping, dining, and entertainment, and the local residents with a larger sense of pride in his or her community. These ‘main street’ amenities should greatly enhance the overall experience of living and playing in Big Sky.
It is also rewarding to see the success and entrepreneurial spirit of the small business owner in Big Sky. New restaurants and retailers provide a refreshing authenticity of local color, culture, and casual atmosphere that Big Sky residents seem determined to preserve and promote. It is encouraging to see the model of a true community taking shape, not only to provide goods, services and other retail offerings, or a new place to set up shop, but a place that locals identify with as their town, whether you run into your neighbor at the grocery store or dine with your family at one of the many restaurants. Best of all, those who live in the Town Center enjoy the convenience of being close to ‘downtown’.
The new Lone Peak High School shows how the Big Sky community will continue to build additional amenities and infrastructure that are vital to making it a more liveable, sustainable community for residents and visitors alike. Big Sky’s future is likely to include a full-service grocery store, full-service emergency medical facility, movie theater, additional hotels, and more shopping and dining options. Couple these amenities with the easy accessibility to Big Sky provided by direct flights to ten cities through six airline carriers at Gallatin Field airport in Bozeman (the airport is currently undergoing a $40M expansion that will double the size of the airport), and you’ll find that there’s a lot to love about Big Sky.