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New tenants may soon come to Missoula Merc

The Merc

MISSOULA – The historic Mercantile Building in downtown Missoula will soon – it’s hoped – be opening it’s doors once again.

“The store moved out three months after I came to this location so it’s been my view for five years – empty,” said Uptown Optical owner Mary Shull.

Shull’s business is across from the Missoula Mercantile building, and she’s been looking to meet her new neighbors ever since Macy’s moved out.

That may happen soon as two developers are now in the process to buy the building. “It’s terrific,” said Shull.

The news broke early this Wednesday, and the buzz has been spreading in Missoula.

“I’m super excited to hear that it’s been sold, downtown needs a really good anchor, I think this could be a good anchor store,” said Colin Hickey of Missoula.

Those sentiments are echoed by Missoula Redevelopment Agency Director Ellen Buchanan, who considers the building critical for growth in the downtown area.

“Macy’s was still in the building when the downtown master plan was being developed and having that viable retail space was really important and guided a lot of the recommendations of the downtown masterplan,” Buchanan told us.

The fact that it sat empty for the last four years has been problematic according to Buchanan, but this change could be huge.

“What drew us to the building? Obviously the prime location, the aesthetics, the history of the building what’s not to like?” asked Stephen Glenn, a private developer.

Glenn – one of those involved in the deal – says he feels lucky he found the project. He’s looking to potentially offer retail, dining, and office space.

“How that really takes shape is really going to be dictated more by the local market,” said Glenn.

Glenn added he’s eager to fill the space, and also hopes he can restore the building to some of its former glory.

Meanwhile, Shull who has yet to meet her new neighbor has a feeling she’s going to like them. “It’s going to be good for all of us,” said Shull.

Glenn tells us that since the news broke he’s already talked with a couple of groups are interested in leasing space in the Merc.

He hopes to start construction in 2015.

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