After a pre-dawn blaze destroyed the roof and top floor of the massive brick building near downtown Nampa Jan. 2, the owner reportedly decided a few days later to have the structure demolished.
But a consortium of groups that had previously shown interest in buying the structure haven’t abandoned the idea, Nampa Economic Development Director Beth Ineck said Tuesday. At least part of the 45,000 square foot building might be salvaged if that plan goes through, she said, but options are still being evaluated.
“The site evaluation is expected to take three or four months,” Ineck said, noting that the groups also plan to look at other potential sites. Their plans likely include senior housing as well as other uses that have not yet been publicly discussed, she said.
Also on Tuesday, Nampa Fire Marshal Phil Roberts said fire and police department investigators have determined the three-alarm fire was accidentally started by people seeking shelter from the cold. It began as a warming fire in a trash can on the northeast side of the old hospital’s second floor, he said.
Roberts had said Jan. 5 that owner Doug Tamura, of Boise, planned to seek bids for demolition after reviewing fire and water damage to the long-vacant building. But Roberts said Tuesday the building’s fate is now “open-ended,” although demolition is still an option.
Located across the street from St. Paul’s Catholic School, Mercy Hospital was built in 1919. Designed by acclaimed architects John Tourtellotte and Charles Hummel, the Mission Revival building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
Mercy Medical Center moved to a new location in south Nampa in 1968, and the old building at 1615 8th St. S. served as a retirement center until 1999. It has since sat vacant.
City leaders and neighborhood residents are anxious to see the situation resolved, Ineck said.
“We don’t want it to continue to be a nuisance in the neighborhood and maybe have someone get hurt there,” she said, and Roberts said city police and code enforcement officers will keep an eye on the site.
Ineck said she would like to see the historic structure incorporated into future plans, “but I understand the economics may not be there.”
The full-block site on 16th Avenue South, a prime north-south arterial east of downtown, could host various types of development, with or without vestiges of its past, she said.
“It’s a great location, with proximity to downtown and to NNU,” Ineck said.