Historic downtown Boise building sits vacant. Will its new owner bring it back to life?

Anybody who spent time in downtown Boise before 2022 may remember the former Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. squished between the the Humpin’ Hannah’s night club and the Coa de Jima restaurant on Main Street.

The business, last owned by Christian and Sheila Cummins, filled the 1904-built Empire Theater Building at 619 W. Main for 113 years and was a well-known spot for everything from maps and blueprints to art supplies, according to prior Idaho Statesman reporting.

But the historic store has sat vacant since the Cummins retired and sold the shop to local developer Jay Story in 2022.

“(The business) is really all I’ve ever known,” Christian Cummins told the Statesman then. “It’s been an interesting ride the whole way — more ups than downs. Downtown has treated us nice.”

Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. shut down in 2022 after 113 years in business. The shop was passed down from generation to generation until Christian and Sheila Cummins sold it in 2022.
Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. shut down in 2022 after 113 years in business. The shop was passed down from generation to generation until Christian and Sheila Cummins sold it in 2022.

The building in the Old Boise Historic District may soon fill up again with customers when it opens as a new venue called the Stag Bar.

Todd Asin, who also operates Atlas Bar across from the Owyhee Hotel on 11th Street and the Royal Cocktail Co. in Hyde Park, is aiming to build a two-story bar serving liquor, beer and wine on the first floor, with pool tables and a second bar on the second-floor mezzanine, according to prior Statesman reporting.

The 1904-built Empire Theater Building at 619 W. Main St., pictured here highlighted in center, is set to become a two-story bar. Coa de Jima restaurant is on the left while Humpin’ Hannah’s is on the right.
The 1904-built Empire Theater Building at 619 W. Main St., pictured here highlighted in center, is set to become a two-story bar. Coa de Jima restaurant is on the left while Humpin’ Hannah’s is on the right.

“I’m not trying to go for a nightclub or anything like that,” Asin told the Statesman in September. “Just a fun environment to go hang out.”

But before it can join the ranks of bars and restaurants that fill Main Street’s nightlife scene, the building has several layers of incoming upgrades and improvements to go through.

Some of these improvements to the nearly 7,800-square-foot building include adding a new sprinkler system and moving the front door, according to the city’s urban renewal agency, the Capital City Development Corp., or CCDC. Plans also call for upgrades to the mezzanine with new staircases and restrooms, which would preserve the balcony-type views.

Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. had a second story mezzanine that looked out over the first floor, shown here. The mezzanine will be preserved when the building is turned into a bar.
Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. had a second story mezzanine that looked out over the first floor, shown here. The mezzanine will be preserved when the building is turned into a bar.

The project would create 20 permanent jobs and cost $3.5 million, according to Kassi Brown, project manager for CCDC.

“Interior renovations will allow the future tenant to operate a pub-style business, with flexibility for restaurant use in the future,” Brown said at a CCDC board meeting Monday. “Improvements are estimated to be completed later this spring.”

CCDC is hoping to get in on the action. The agency’s board voted to negotiate an agreement with Story’s company, West Bannock Dev, to fund nearly $82,000 in assistance.

The agency pays for assistance like this mostly with property-tax revenue it collects from properties within its urban renewal districts.

“This is a particularly interesting opportunity for the agency to participate in historic preservation efforts and local economic development,” Brown said. “Partnering would aid in the further preservation of this historic building and the ongoing activity along Main Street.”

Before the Empire Theatre Building was built at 619 W. Main St., the site was home to one of the city’s first fire stations, pictured here on left with Boise Volunteer Fire Department in 1901. When the Empire Theatre building was later built in 1904 it served as a theater and sporting goods store before becoming the Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co.
Before the Empire Theatre Building was built at 619 W. Main St., the site was home to one of the city’s first fire stations, pictured here on left with Boise Volunteer Fire Department in 1901. When the Empire Theatre building was later built in 1904 it served as a theater and sporting goods store before becoming the Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co.

The funding would go towards fixing curbs, gutters and the sidewalk outside the building.

“(I’m) really glad that we’re weighing in on this project,” said Latonia Haney Keith, chair of CCDC’s Board of Commissioners, before the vote. ”It seems like it’s a unique opportunity for us to help out and making sure we can preserve this building.”

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