Boise & Garden City

Former Boise International Market will be rebuilt, not torn down

A year after fire, future of Boise International Market building up in air

A fire at the Boise International Market on Sept. 5, 2015, gutted the building, which house 16 small businesses. Police say the fire was intentionally set. (Video by Katy Moeller)
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A fire at the Boise International Market on Sept. 5, 2015, gutted the building, which house 16 small businesses. Police say the fire was intentionally set. (Video by Katy Moeller)

After a fire ripped through the Boise International Market on Sept. 5, 2015, it was unclear if the building was salvageable or would have to be torn down.

Miguel Gaddi co-owns the building with his wife, Lori Porreca. He told the Statesman this week that rebuilding is now underway. The brick building had wood roof framing.

“We’re slowly trying to rebuild the core shell,” said Gaddi, noting that they haven’t yet fully settled with their insurance company. “We just finished the framing on the roofing, and now we need to start on a new roof.”

Gaddi and Porreca don’t have any long-term plans for the building. No one has approached them about creating a new market — most vendors at the previous market have reopened in other locations. They’re just focused on getting the structure back to basic working condition.

The demolition of the interior and removal of charred debris was a slow process. Gaddi said he and one other person did most of that work.

“We cleared the whole inside of the building,” he said. There’s still much more to do, including replacing the entire front facade and installing new electrical, heat/air and water systems.

Flames swallowed 16 businesses at the Boise International Market on Sept. 5, 2015. No injuries were reported after the blaze.

Investigators believe the fire, reported shortly before midnight, was intentionally set. Police have not identified any suspects, a Boise Police spokeswoman said Thursday.

An employee of the nearby Babylon Market told the Statesman in February that he was at that shop the night of the fire, playing dominoes with some Iraqi friends. “Some American guy” told the group he saw fire inside the building, the employee said. They reported it to emergency dispatch, but the fire engulfed the building by the time firefighters arrived.

The Boise International Market was designed to be a multicultural community center. The building housed 16 small businesses, many owned by refugees from African and Middle Eastern countries. Generous donations from the community helped shops like The Goodness Land, a Middle Eastern restaurant, find new locations. (That one’s now on Overland Road.)

To help the displaced vendors, the nonprofit Jannus organized a temporary Global Community Market at Trailhead.

Jannus officials hoped to secure funding for a new, larger market building at another location. On Thursday, Gina Bessire, a project manager for Jannus, said the group was not approved to reallocate money for that project.

Trailhead in Downtown Boise is providing a temporary market on Saturdays for the vendors displaced by the Boise International Market fire. Supporters hope to secure a permanent market space as soon as possible.

When the fire broke out last September, Gaddi and Porreca were in Philadelphia for their own wedding. They delayed their nuptials to rush back to Boise, and they were married by Mayor David Bieter at Boise City Hall on Sept. 11.

On the anniversary of the fire, the couple — who tapped their own savings and spent years putting the market together — wondered what their lives would be like if the market hadn’t been destroyed that night, Gaddi said.

“They say time heals everything. So, I guess it’s only a matter of how much time,” he said, noting that the demolition of the interior made him sad. “Every piece of wall that was coming, it was ‘Oh, so and so put this up.’ It is what it is, and you just need to keep going.”

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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