Save the Merc Legal Fund
Organized by: Save the Merc
The Mercantile building has been a cornerstone of Missoula’s business economy for over a century, an icon for both locals and visitors. Now a local grass roots effort is trying to stop the developer's wrecking ball. Unfortunately, we are up against developer money and their attorneys. Save the Merc has hired legal counsel that specializes in Historic Preservation Law and Real Estate Law to help us. Please consider donating to this fundraiser which is strictly for that help.
For over 130 years, the Missoula Mercantile has served as an anchor for the Missoula downtown business district. It survived the economic panic of 1893. It advertised uniforms for soldiers in World War I. Many businesses crumbled during the Great Depression, but the Mercantile remained. When malls and suburbs pulled Missoulians away from the downtown, the Mercantile pulled them back again--first as the Bon Marche, then as Bon-Macy’s, and finally as Macy’s. For 132 years it enjoyed continual occupation. For six years it has been vacant, waiting for the next opportunity. Missoula’s local business economy deserves every chance to flourish. In the 1970s, construction of Southgate Mall and other shopping interests pulled both visitors and locals out of the downtown corridor. Over the last two decades, Missoula has invested heavily to reverse the trend. Now downtown is once again a bustling hub of shopping, art galleries, and local eateries.
For the last several years, Missoulians have watched the Mercantile building sit empty, waiting for Octagon Partners--the current owners--to rehabilitate and reopen the space. Every setback has frustrated locals who are eager to see the building occupied again. The Mercantile building has the makings of greatness already. The massive space would be perfect for diversified use; a combination of small business and community services that would provide a draw for locals and tourists alike.
Small businesses keep money in the local economy; they hire local, pay better than average wages, and retain a commitment to community that is sometimes lacking in corporate business decisions. We want the Mercantile to remain representative of Missoula. It is a symbol of the businesses that built the city, yes, but it is more importantly a symbol of opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs and investors. Missoula demands better building practices that promote reuse and rehabilitation over wasteful destruction. The greenest building is the one that’s already built; demolishing the Mercantile contributes an extensive amount of materials to landfills and waste sites. It encourages a mindset of disposable, irresponsible development.
Demolition is a permanent, irreversible decision.