MOSCOW -- Hold that wrecking ball.
The grain elevators at Sixth and Jackson streets in Moscow probably won't be demolished after all.
Viola architect and part-time University of Idaho instructor John Anderson is putting together a group of investors to buy Moscow's tallest structure from local developers.
"It was a done deal," Anderson said of plans to tear down the unused elevators. "They were going to start demolishing the steel elevator next month."
Earlier this week, Moscow developer Rick Beebe let it be known that he was moving on from his attempts to save the former Latah County Grain Growers elevators by converting them into apartments and retail space. Deconstruction had already started on the wooden portion of the elevators, and Beebe's partner Larry Germer was on his way to get a crane for the rest of the demolition when Anderson called.
Beebe confirmed Friday that a contract will likely be signed Tuesday putting the elevators under the stewardship of what Anderson is tentatively calling the Anderson Group.
"We're so thrilled about this that we can hardly believe it," Beebe said of the prospect the elevators will be saved. He owns the property with Germer, a Moscow construction company owner, in a limited liability company called B&G.
Placing the elevators under the stewardship of the Anderson Group will buy it the time it needs to finance their purchase, Anderson said.
Beebe and Anderson wouldn't disclose the actual sale price. But Beebe said he and Germer turned down another offer for $300,000 more so they could sell to the "right people." He added Moscow City councilors John Weber and Bill Lambert were instrumental in connecting B&G with the Anderson Group.
Anderson said his group of investors have about half the money they need to buy the site. After the group takes stewardship, he said it will apply to put the elevators on the National Register of Historic Places. If historical status is granted, the group will be able to apply for historic preservation grants from federal, state and local entities, he said.
The group is also planning events to raise money and cultural awareness, Anderson said.
Deconstruction of the wooden portion of the Jackson Street elevator can't be stopped because much of the wood has already been sold, Anderson said.
Demolition of another elevator on South Main Street across from Gritman Medical Center will go ahead as planned. So will the demolition of the former Brocke and Sons buildings south of College Street, Beebe said, and both parcels will be redeveloped over a period of years.
But Anderson said the Jackson Street elevators, as the tallest of all the structures, were the most important ones to save from the wrecking ball. He said the buildings represent the heritage of the Palouse.
"This is us," he said. "This is our region. They are international icons that put Moscow on the map, and we cannot afford to lose these buildings."
Anderson added he feels such a connection to the elevators that he and his wife would consider leaving the area if they are torn down.
He wasn't willing to discuss specific plans for the elevators, choosing instead to focus on his group's effort to save them. But he did say future uses could provide an economic boon for the city by fusing academic and industrial pursuits.
Mills may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 883-0564.