Downtown Gets its First Public Restroom

Ribbon cutting & Grand Opening: Thursday August 17th.

The project itself is the first of its kind in our downtown. The Portland Loo® public restroom facility selected for this project was chosen with intent. The need for a public restroom facility in downtown Billings has long been established by downtown residents, businesses, and community leaders. Our organization has researched various public restroom facility options but it’s taken years to find the one that meets our downtown’s specific needs and wants. While most automated restrooms focus on easy cleaning, The Portland Loo® facility focuses on the crime prevention aspect of public restrooms. This pairs well with the BID’s Clean and Safe initiatives and our commitment and investment in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles.

“The typical public toilet is mistakenly designed to make users as comfortable as possible which only increases the likelihood of illicit behavior. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the more privacy and accommodation a public toilet provides, the more it will be misused.”

Louvers at the top and bottom of the restroom facility creates an interior environment that offers complete visual privacy, while remaining as connected with the outside as possible. The lower louvers are angled to provide law enforcement and approaching pedestrians the opportunity to observe if there is a user inside without compromising privacy. Additional features that made the Portland Loo® a great match for downtown Billings’ include the outside handwashing fixture, durable material to help resist vandalism, easy to service design, and a small footprint that takes up the space equivalent to a small parking spot.

The Portland Loo® has been installed West of the Park 3 Parking Garage entrance (210 N. 27th St.). The location was selected for being highly trafficked by pedestrians and motorists and a common route used by law enforcement. Our Business Improvement District (BID), is a nonprofit within our Downtown office, whose work plan focuses on downtown beautification, cleanliness, and safety, will clean and maintain the facility. We’ve been working closely with the City of Billings Administration, Public Works, and Billings Police Department to ensure this restroom project is a success for the community. Additionally, we have plans to wrap the unit with art. It’s likely we will work with artist Terri Porta to extend her existing mural that the restroom now stands in front of.

The project, led by the BID, received an initial Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in May 2021 in the total of $117,715 with a second CDBG of $75,000 in June 2023. The CDBG dollars came from Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for community projects offering public health solutions in the wake of the Coronavirus. In January 2022 this specific BID project was granted additional funding of $70,000 from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district when installation costs increased from the initial quotes due to increased construction costs.