MISSOULA – The Missoula community was devastated when the decision to tear down the historic Mercantile building passed last year.
Another historic building recently changed ownership downtown, but this time the owners will be moving in direction of historic restoration.
The historic Florence Hotel sits on the corner of Higgins and Front streets in downtown Missoula. When you enter the doors the art deco design gives off an old, warm feeling while maintaining all the charm of old town Missoula.
The one-time hotel has been serving as an office space with retail stores since the mid-1970s.
The hotel wasn’t on the market until the owners of the building were approached by a buyer looking to purchase the historic building.
The hotel was eventually sold for $16 million but sale broker Devin Khoury says the money wasn’t the reason for the sale — it was who was buying it.
“I think we made a very nice offer that showed the respect that the building deserved. But I think, more importantly, they probably would have taken more money from someone else,” Khoury said. “But if it wasn’t the right buyer, they weren’t going to sell.
“And they really didn’t think that they would ever sell it anyway…whatever internally they were going through it was a perfect time and a perfect buyer and they thought it was a really good progression for the building. New blood, new ownership.,” he added.
Many Missoula residents may be concerned after the Mercantile was brought down last year, but Khoury says the main objective of this sale was to keep the historical importance while also maintaining the building.
“How do you make things better, but maintain the heritage and what the town is made up on? I am happy to see it, as long as it’s done in the right way,” Khoury said.
“And I am in that position, and that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of this, because everyone involved had only one objective and that was to make this building better and keep it the exact same, as much as possible,” he added.
Folks can start to expect to see some minor changes to the seven-story, 130,000-square foot building in the near future with even some light talks of a new music venue in the basement.
The buyer of the historic hotel is Thomas Taylor.
-Jack Ginsburg reporting for MTN News