Workers show off early deconstruction progress at Missoula Mercantile


MISSOULA, Mont. - Crews have been working on the deconstruction of the old Missoula Mercantile building for almost a month.

Friday afternoon workers from Home Resource invited the media in to take a look before the process really gets going.

Rather than demolishing the building and hauling all the debris to a landfill the developer promised to salvage as much material from the building as possible.

Here's a look at what's currently remains of the former downtown cornerstone:

HomeBase Montana, based in Bozeman, plans to convert the spot into a five-story Marriott Hotel with up to 150 rooms.

Under an agreement with the city, HomeBase must keep the northwest portion of the building, known as "the pharmacy."

A group called Preserve Historic Missoula, along with private citizens, sued to stop the developer from tearing down the historic building.

In January Judge Dusty Deschamps wrote in a 14-page ruling that preventing the demolition can be compared to simply taking private property, which goes against the U.S. Constitution. Deschamps also said the city followed all the right steps in considering how to replace the Merc.

Missoula residents we've talked to have mixed emotions about the changes, but Mayor John Engen is excited to see new development in the spot that has sat vacant for several years.

The Merc housed many businesses throughout the years. The most recent tenant was Macy's, which closed in 2010.

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