The landmark hotel built 102 years ago at Main and 11th streets is about to get rejuvenated.
The longtime owners of the property a full city block with the hotel, offices and shops, a lounge, restaurant and parking sold it this week.
The new ownership group, led by Old Boise 6th and Main owner and developer Clay Carley, wants to breathe new life into the property while the former owners carry on its day-to-day operations.
John May and his family have owned and operated the hotel for more than 20 years. They decided that it needed updating, but they didnt have the money to make that happen. It was probably time to turn it over to someone else, May said.
It wasnt that business was faltering. May, a member of the Idaho Travel Council, told the Idaho Statesmans Business Insider last spring that the Owyhees business was improving, partly because corporate travel was picking up and conferences were attracting more people.
Room rates plummeted to their lowest in recent years in early 2011, he said. But hoteliers in Ada County bounced back, and the countys lodging sales in 2011 rose about twice as fast as sales in the rest of the state.
I think weve kind of come out of the bottom, May said then.
As general manager, May will run the hotel and its amenities, such as the Gamekeeper Lounge.
May and his family said they wanted to improve the hotel, not sell it to the highest bidder to be bulldozed. So they picked someone with a knack for bringing shine back to old places: Carley.
Among other things, Carleys group will focus on filling areas of the building that now sit vacant.
My mom and I have been renovating historical structures for 40 years, so (the Owyhee) fits in our wheelhouse, Carley said.
There likely would be no Old Boise without Joan Davidson Carley, who died in November 2011 at 81.
Carley also sees potential in the hotels location on the western edge of Downtown, a bookend to his 6th and Main building.
The hotels revamp will add vitality to the Downtown core, he said in a news release.
May said patrons probably wont notice any difference during the transition. The same employees will be there, he said.
The Owyhee Plaza is a cultural icon in this community, Carley said. Well respect and build upon its heritage, while making significant investments to revitalize the properties.
Carley said details will be announced in early 2013.
We have ideas about how to make the office space more attractive to a new class of businesses, as well as a number of creative concepts for retail and other uses that will build a real sense of place, he said.
About three-fifths of the office and retail space is vacant, he said.
The first of the year well have a plan. Right now (we are) trying to solidify a joint venture partner who will help draw up the details.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448