The old and the new form a fresh-look Owyhee

Iconic Downtown gathering spot now includes office space, apartments

sberg@idahostatesman.comJuly 9, 2014 

  • GRAND OPENING

    The party starts at 6 p.m. Admission is free. Enter at the corner of 11th and Grove streets. The event will feature live performances by the Emalee Tipton Band, Thomas Paul and Joseph Lyle. DJ Eric Rhodes will spin on the rooftop. There will be a coffee pop-up, drawing demonstrations by Lone Wolf Tattoo and more.

A funny thing always seems to happen when renovators get to work on old buildings: They find beautiful details that earlier renovations - for whatever reason - covered up.

For example, a hearth on the first floor of the 104-year-old Owyhee Hotel had an original surface of impeccable green tile. Crews working on the hotel's latest renovation didn't know the tile was there until they stripped away several layers of drywall, said Haily Zaki, a publicist for the new project.

The original tile looks great, and it's a prominent feature of the building's first-floor common area once again. No one knows why it was ever concealed.

Last year, Los Angeles-based developer Mike Brown and his partner, Casey Lynch, partnered with Boise developer Clay Carley to renovate the Owyhee top-to-bottom. Their project will come to fruition Wednesday as they hold their grand opening at 6 p.m.

Features of the project:

Hotel rooms gone

In their place the new Owyhee has office and banquet space the developers believe will be perfect for weddings and other large gatherings, as well as a large common area on the first floor. Boise tech firm Metageek plans to move to the fifth floor in late summer.

Apartments available

The connected building just west of the historic Owyhee building has 36 studio and one-bedroom apartments, 12 of which have been rented, Zaki said Tuesday.

What's the rent?

The cheapest studio will rent for $700. The one-bedroom apartments with the best view of the Foothills will rent for as much as $1,240 per month.

First-floor common area

A bar will serve as a coffee stand by day and a craft cocktail bar by night. The whole area will be open to the public.

Interesting details

Boise's geothermal water will heat the sidewalk on the building's north side, Zaki said. Solar energy will power the lights in the parking area south of the apartment wing.

Bar games enthusiasts will like this

Brown brought in an antique shuffleboard table. It'll be in the first-floor common area.

What about the grill?

The old Owyhee's grill comes back to life in the new version. It's located on the building's south side and has rust-colored stools and gleaming original ceiling and wall details.

The penthouse

The seventh floor has a wraparound balcony that looks out over Downtown. It will have a bar, though it won't regularly be open to the public.

Some Owyhee history

May 9, 1910: The Owyhee Hotel opens. For decades, it is one of Boise's top hotels. Its 125 rooms are furnished with mahogany furniture, electric lights, curling irons and coffee pots.

1960s: A new hotel wing is added. The original hotel area is converted to office space.

1977: The main lobby is remodeled. Many interior details are removed, including the original leaded glass dome and mezzanine iron railing.

2012: Mike Brown, Casey Lynch and Clay Carley partner to overhaul the Owyhee.

2013: The Owyhee building is closed for renovation.

July 9, 2014: The Owyhee reopens, featuring office, banquet and common space, apartments and restaurants.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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