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The Hole no more

Jeanne WoY columnI just had a kind of out-of-body experience. Right there in the middle of downtown Boise. There I was, having lunch in the new Flatbread Pizza restaurant in the new Eighth and Main building.

My lunch partner and I had come in off the street. As I walked through the streetside door, rode up the escalator and took in the lobby, I felt weird. “How can I be here? I never thought I would be here.” It felt like I had crossed over into an alternate universe.

I remember sitting out on the balcony at Piper Pub 10 years ago, having a salmon omelet and a Bloody Mary for brunch. I had just moved to Boise from Denver. “When are they going to finish that project?” I asked. There was a half a city block across the street filled with rusting rebar and construction debris. On the side of the next building over was a depiction of a high-rise building that stretched down the entire building, perched hundreds of feet in the air, towering over the Bladerunner-esque hole. It screamed: “What’s going up downtown!”

Someone brunching at the next table over leaned out and said: “Oh, that’s The Hole. They’ve been trying to get something built there for 10 years.”

the holeOver the next nine years I would commiserate with others about the situation. I remember that most clearly from brunches, lunches, dinners and cocktails peering over from Piper Pub. It was both a conversation starter and stopper. And head shaker.

“It’s just awful.”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“It drives away customers.”

“It’s an eyesore.”

“It’s cursed.”

“It’ll never happen.”

In the span of the 10 years that I watched the space, I saw not just one construction project but two die. And the rebar kept on rusting. They finally put up a fence all the way around The Hole and invited people to decorate it with art. That worked pretty well at hiding the eyesore. At street level, that is. But up on the balcony at Piper Pub The Hole was not a pretty cityscape to gaze upon.

When Zions Bank announced it was going to resurrect a building project on the site of The Hole, it’s not hard to understand why the good citizens and merchants of Boise were skeptical.

“Yeah, right.”

“It’ll never happen.”

“It’s doomed.”

“It’s cursed.”

“It’s an eyesore.”

“It’s been there for 20 years – and they think they’re going to get rid of it?”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Well, I’m here to tell you seeing is believing.

There I was, sitting at a table with a window view, looking out across at the ghost of myself from Piper Pub times past. I was sitting on a chair, two stories up from where The Hole used to be. “I’m here!,” I whispered. “It’s real.”

I took a photo with my iphone before I left and posted it to my Facebook page with this caption:

Guess where I am?

About Jeanne Huff

Jeanne Huff is the special sections editor at IBR, editor of Women of the Year, Accomplished Under 40, CEOs of Influence, Money Makers, Leaders in Law, Corporate Guide to Event Planning as well as editor of custom publications including Welcome to Boise, Dining Decisions, Idaho Heartland Living and Travelog.