After months of delays, protests and legal filings, Missoula County District Judge Robert L. ‘Dusty’ Deschamps granted HomeBase Montana the right to demolish the historic Missoula Mercantile building to make way for a new Residence Inns by Marriott.

In the opinion released on Tuesday afternoon, Deschamps eloquently recalled the history of the business that grew and changed with the community, but because of the various additions to the building over the years, ‘it is not a particularly well-built or attractive building, making it difficult and expensive to utilize.’

Deschamps said the argument came down to ‘a purely legal issue’ and the city council balanced ‘historic preservation’ with ‘the need to maintain a robust and active downtown economy’.

HomeBase Montana’s Andy Halloran said Judge Deschamps, himself from an historic Missoula family, judged the matter fairly.

“The history of this building is so great,” Halloran began. “I don’t see our team as celebrating. Taking a look at all the great things this building stood for, and we’re just very thankful that we’re in a position to continue on with this great sense of commerce and the vitality that this corner deserves and continuing with the new Mercantile, which will be the next phase of this iconic property.”

Halloran said he immediately pulled the partial demolition permit, and will begin to make the building and the neighborhood safe for remediation and demolition.

“As we’re sitting here today, I know we have a lot of work to do on the deconstruction and the preservation of the pharmacy building,” he said. “Our goal is to go vertical by late summer of this year, and that will put us in a position to open up in the spring of 2019.”