Big changes planned for iconic Owyhee Plaza Hotel

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- For generations of Treasure Valley residents, dining at the now closed Gamekeeper Restaurant in the Owyhee Plaza Hotel in Downtown Boise was the best of the best.

"We could always count on the consistency of the experience," said Jim Kling of Nampa. "My wife and I over the years have enjoyed many anniversaries, and Valentine's Days, (at the Gamekeeper) together."

The Owyhee Plaza Hotel welcomed its first guests in 1910 but its days as a hotel will come to an end April 1.

In May, new owners plan to start converting 68 hotel rooms into 36 modern rental apartments and the iconic building is being renamed Owyhee Place.

Clay Carley, general manager of Owyhee Place LLC, says he's sorry the community is losing the Owyhee as a hotel but he says financial realities require a new direction.

"The bottom line is 68 rooms is difficult to run efficiently," he said. "It's an independent hotel, not a flagship, and that adds to the problems."

But Carley says the Plaza Grill will be maintained, and banquet facilities revitalized for meetings and community events. The historic rooftop garden terrace will be revived. And a new restaurant is being sought for the Gamekeeper space.

The motel section south of the hotel along Grove Street will be demolished. Carley says it just doesn't fit with the historic nature of the Owyhee.

But long term plans could see a new hotel built on that ground. Carley says it would be a structure that would better suit the changing city-scape of downtown Boise.