In January of 1987, a fire destroyed the Eastman Building which had stood at the corner of 8th and Main since 1905. Plans to construct a 22-story tower on the site fell through and the site remained an unsightly pit covered by steel which even garnered its own Facebook page! Boise legend attributed the pit to “Billy Fong’s curse.” Billy Fong was a Chinese man who lived downtown when much of it, including almost all of Boise’s historic Chinatown, was demolished to make way for a regional shopping mall. For more information on Billy Fong and the history and loss of Boise’s Chinatown please see: https://localwiki.org/boise/
In 2012, construction began on the Zions Bank Building and the infamous hole was no more. The 18-story, 400,000-square-foot building cost approximately $76 million to construct and took about fourteen months to complete. It officially opened in February 2014 to a large celebration by Boiseans and entertainment provided by the band Goo Goo Dolls.
The lower floors of the building are stylistically sensitive to the surrounding historic buildings, while the upper floors are composed of 327 feet of glass, stone, and steel. This verticality forces the gaze upwards. The building is topped off with a magnificent 45-foot spire, making it three feet taller than the previous record holder, the US Bank Building across the street.
The spire was quite the point of contention for many citizens. The owners of the building, the Gardner Co, which is owned by the Mormon Gardner family., were criticized for the spire’s seeming reference to Mormonism and proposed gold plated statue of the Mormon prophet Moroni. The building’s architect claimed that the spire was simply made to emphasize the corner of 8th and Main.
The interior of the building is composed of glass, steel, and wood with a variety of textures and pops of color. The lobby “brings the outdoors in” with the use of potted plants.
The Zion Bank Building is home to the Idaho headquarters of Zions Bank, and several other businesses, including a law office, multiple restaurants, a gym, an architectural firm, and much more. As of November of 2013, there were a total of fifteen tenants in the building.