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Future mixed for historical buildings

by Rick Thomas
| June 29, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The owners of several pieces of downtown real estate are close to seeing two of them again filled with working tenants.

A third owned by the Bowlin Family Trust is also now available, but will probably require major repairs.

Renovations that began late last summer are finally showing signs of paying off, with the opening of Sherman Junction Restaurant nearing.

"Unfortunately, we are probably two more weeks out," said Leisa Wagner, who leased the one-time Rustler's Roost restaurant at the corner of Ninth Street and Sherman Avenue and has spent nearly a year giving it an extensive makeover.

Log accents, a white rock water feature near the front door and plenty of wood details inside are among the highlights of the restaurant, which was most recently a travel office.

Wagner purchased the Down the Street restaurants in mid-2009, only to sell the Coeur d'Alene eatery only a couple of months later. She then began work on Sherman Junction, which sits on about half of the city block owned by the Bowlin family.

On the west half of the property, the former White House that was Prestige Realty until last summer is being leased to a tenant who plans to open an events center, said owner Marsha Bowlin.

That house was built in 1903, she said. For the past few days a yard sale has been going on as they cleaned the building out.

"He is taking possession on the first (of July), so we have to be out," Bowlin said.

Details on plans for the event center were unavailable on Monday.

Also part of the Bowlin Family Trust is the former Elks building at 418 Lakeside Ave. It has sat empty for about 15 years, and was used for storage. The question has often been asked what the plans are for the red brick building at the corner of Fifth Street, built nearly a century ago, shortly after the Coeur d'Alene Elks formed.

Purchased by the late Richard Bowlin in the mid-1990s it has fallen into disrepair but was not offered for sale in recent years.

"Sell it for us," said Mark Bowlin, Richard's son.

"Everything is for sale," added his mother, Marsha.

The basement of the building includes a large bar and kitchen area, and matches the 13,000 square feet of the main level. There could be another 5,000 to 13,000 square feet added by making use of the ceiling height to create a third level, Mark Bowlin told The Press in 2005.

It had been offered several years prior to that at prices in the $600,000 to $800,000 range, but was withdrawn from the market.

"Without repairs and maintenance, it is a teardown," said Joe Chapman, a building designer who had an office across the street for a decade until recently.

He watched as broken windows went unrepaired, allowing water to penetrate. The damage could be significant, he said.

"It's history," Chapman said. "It's a shame. There is some potential to reclaim it. It is a big open shell."

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