Boise Armory awaits new orders

Empty since the '80s, it gets a face-lift to help its owner try to lure a tenant.

sberg@idahostatesman.comOctober 23, 2013 

Crews should finish a second coat of paint on the Armory's exterior by Thursday, said Sarah Schafer, Boise's design review and historic preservation manager.

They've already painted the inside of the building, torn out drywall and stripped the floor down to the boards, Schafer said. They covered up graffiti - most of it inside the Reserve Street building.

About a week ago, workers put a new roof on the armory's south side. By winter there should be new windows in place to protect the interior from bad weather, Schafer said.

Schafer said work on the armory is aimed at keeping the building from deteriorating and making it more appealing to potential clients, even though J&M Land, the building's owner, hasn't identified a specific tenant.

"We're very optimistic they'll get it filled," Schafer said.

Efforts to contact J&M manager Mike McCollum were unsuccessful.

The armory was built in 1931, a New Deal-era project for the National Guard, which occupied the building until the mid-1970s. After that, it belonged to the state of Idaho, which sold it to the city of Boise in 1993. Though at least one tenant signed a lease to occupy the building, it has been empty since the 1980s.

Last year, the city exchanged the armory and the roughly five acres it sits on for cash and another piece of property in Southeast Boise.

J&M proposed changes to the building that envision a brick facade covering part of the existing concrete exterior. Members of the East End Neighborhood Association Armory Committee weren't very happy about that look but ultimately gave J&M their blessing. They were worried that if they put up too much of a fight, the developer would walk away.

The city rezoned the property last October, giving it a commercial designation that would allow for various office or retail uses.

Laura Sheely, who chairs the Armory Committee, said she's been holding out hope that a brewery would open a new pub there. It seems like a perfect venue, she said, but nothing has materialized.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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