Chamber of Commerce Membership Votes To Demolish Mercantile Building – But Save Some History
The Missoula Chamber of Commerce released the results of a survey on Wednesday, after polling their members on whether the historic Missoula Mercantile building should be restored, or demolished to make way for new construction.
85.7 percent of respondents voted to deconstruct the building, while only 14.2 percent voted against deconstruction.
Chamber President and CEO Kim LaTrielle said the results of the survey were solidly in favor of tearing down the old building to allow for new businesses to come into the downtown area.
"We had a meeting several weeks ago with the developers and then again at the Wilma recently, and our board of directors, knowing it was a sensitive issue due to the history of the building, wanted to survey our membership to find out their opinion," LaTrielle said. "The question we asked was 'should the Mercantile building be deconstructed so that new businesses could use that site', and the response we received was overwhelmingly in support of that."
LaTrielle said the mood of the Chamber membership was that enough time had gone by so that the old building was falling into disrepair.
"Six years is a long time to sit vacant," she said. "There have been a lot of attempts to do something, but the sense that I get from our membership is that the time has come to move on. Rather than let it deteriorate and fail, we have an opportunity to put new commerce in there."
LaTrielle said an effort should be made to preserve as much of the history as possible, but that Missoula needs the downtown area to keep growing.
"It's time to embrace new ideas, and move on."