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Union Block building too 'dangerous' to stay open according to the city of Boise

The City of Boise closed the Union Block Building downtown, deeming it 'dangerous' to its occupants
Posted at 4:36 PM, Nov 10, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — On Thursday, the City of Boise closed down the Union Block Building downtown on the corner of Capitol and Idaho. The building was deemed too dangerous for occupancy

  • The building and the sidewalk in front of it, are now cut off from foot traffic. The businesses inside the building, like Moon's and Mai Thai, are now closed.
  • Idaho News 6 has reached out to parties involved, including the City of Boise, Parklane, who owns the building, and impacted businesses. We are awaiting responses.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

The City of Boise closed the Union Block Building Thursday, saying it was unsafe for occupancy.

Businesses like Mai Thai and Moon's are now closed for the foreseeable future.

"It was kind of crazy," said Jorden Lorton, the general manager of Pho Nouveau, a restaurant next to the Union Block Building. She told Idaho News 6 she was there when it happened. "We saw some of the inspectors out here kind of pointing out the building, seeing what's going on and we started to wonder what was happening ... until the crews started showing up and blocking everything out. That's when we saw them start hanging up the signs and everything out and then just kind of explaining that the building was no longer safe for occupancy."

Lorton explained to me that Pho Nouveau is a part of the Fidelity Building, not the Union Block Building. So for them, it is still business as usual.

Orange barriers on the sidewalk are as close as you can get to the building now.

On the entrances, there are signs calling the building dangerous under Boise Code.

The code says a building is classified as dangerous when a part of it is likely to fail, or collapse, and could injure a person.

"Whether any portion or member or appurtenance thereof is likely to fail, or to become detached or dislodged, or to collapse, and thereby injure persons or damage property” - 1997 Uniform Code for the abatement of Dangerous Buildings (adopted by the city of Boise).

I reached out to the city for clarification but haven't heard back yet.

Moon's and Mai Thai, two of the impacted businesses, have hired Taylor Law Offices for representation. I have reached out to the lawyers as well as the businesses and am waiting to hear back.

On Thursday, Moon's posted on Instagram telling customers they would be closed. In the post, they said it was because the owner of the building, Ken Howell, has not done what is necessary to keep occupants safe.

I called Parklane Company, Ken Howell's business, for comment but have yet to receive an answer.

Back at Pho Nouveau, Lorton says working next to a building that has been deemed unsafe for occupants makes her a bit fearful.

"Honestly, it is a little bit scary for us, just knowing that we are the direct contact across there," Lorton said.

She says she is confident in the owner of her building though.

"Just knowing that our safety is his number one priority and ensuring that the businesses here are able to continue working, it makes us feel a lot better about what's going on with everything," said Lorton.