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I love going into Worden's Market downtown. Yet owner Tim France's assertion in the Missoulian ("City encourages public input," Oct. 11) that "Downtown is the heart of MIssoula... it is what defines us and sets us apart from everywhere USA" rings hollow.

Worden's is brimming with the charm that distinguishes it in the way France describes. But he was one of the few people (two by my count) who, before the City Council cast their final vote on the issue, testified in favor of demolishing the old Mercantile building and replacing it with a Marriott hotel. He argued, very reasonably, that a new, large hotel would be good for businesses downtown. His claims were about commerce, not aesthetics.

Tastes differ, but to my eye the almost completed hotel is a piece of predictably bland ugliness on a massive scale; preserving the old pharmacy almost makes it more grotesque, and putting the word "Mercantile" on it doesn't help.

Whatever a person's ideas about architecture, it cannot be argued that the new Marriott contributes in any way to the notion of downtown distinctiveness that France celebrates.

John Dunkum,


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