Men in suits and ties and women in heels and blazers grasped the rail as they walked carefully down a set of rickety metal stairs Thursday afternoon. They gathered under the hot sun in a hole in the ground, surrounded by construction equipment and hard hats. They celebrated that the infamous hole in Boise's downtown on Eighth and Main will finally be filled.
The tallest building in Idaho will replace the hole and become the headquarters for Zions Bank. The building with its glass front will rise 18 stories and offer 400,000 square feet. It will include two levels of retail and restaurant space, as well as three levels of parking. The energy-efficient building will cost up to $80,000,000.
Mayor Dave Bieter thanked Zions Bank and Gardner Company for beginning development. He joked with the crowd, noting his unease in actually being in the hole. He said in the last nine years he’s been part of Boise’s politics, the hole remained a constant question.
“Now on behalf of all the citizens of Boise and way beyond, I would like to say to Gardner Company and Zion’s, please start filling this hole,” Bieter said to a cheering crowd.
Bieter told BSPR he thinks the building will bring even more businesses to downtown Boise.
“I think the tendency with a project this long is just, ‘get anything in there, just something,’” Bieter said. “But this is not that, this is something real special.”
After various CEOs and directors and presidents of Zions Bank, Gardner Company, and Holland & Hart, Native American Mike Cutler took the stage. The BSU professor was asked to cure the hole of curses and misfortunes that’s haunted it over the years.
Cutler said a Lakota prayer, sang and drummed to ward off any bad luck on the lot. He said his feelings on the ceremony were mixed. He said he’s happy to help, but it’s hard, heavy stuff.
“On the reservation, there’s a thousand people who could do what I did here today,” Cutler said, “but once you move off the reservation, you sort of become the ‘expert.’”
But the mood among the business men and women felt festive. The speakers lined up in white hard hats and took gold-plated shovels, each picking up a clump of gravel and tossing it into the hole.
Zions Bank will share the space with Holland & Hart, CTA Architects and Engineers, First American Title Company and Idaho Technology Council. Bieter hopes to cut the ribbon in January 2014.