Last year, Toast Bistro announced it would be open in Bown Crossing by August, 2018.

With just less than a month to go, the lot at the corner of ParkCenter Blvd. and Bown Way is still vacant.

From an extensive review of public filings, it appears the delay hangs on parking.

 Public filings show renderings of proposed Bown Crussing restaurant and retail space
Public filings show renderings of proposed Bown Crussing restaurant and retail space

The project would include a building along the corner with room for a 13-space parking lot behind. The building would total 6,903 square feet with space for a restaurant and retail.

Slichter-Urgin Architecture and site owner Boyd Yee are back with an updated attempt on the site, after revamping the overall look and layout of the project. But they still face a battle with neighbors over parking.

As part of the initial application, Boise’s planning staff recommended one of three moves: Increase the number of parking spaces to 24, shrink the building by about 45% in size, or apply for a parking reduction conditional use permit.

 Updated site plan
Updated site plan

Staff also recommended a change in the look and feel of the building – suggesting that the original idea of using corrugated metal and IPE wood wasn’t compatible with the rest of Bown Crossing – asking developers to make it fit in by using stucco and ledgestone seen in other nearby buildings.

The developers tweaked the plan – changing the design to conform with the stucco and stones aesthetic, but increased parking by just a single space – from 13 to 14. They are now asking for that permit to allow for the decreased number of spaces.

But neighbors are still unhappy with the tweaked concept, particularly when it comes to the parking situation.

 

Saint Alphonsus Health System, which operates a clinic right next door, was one of those neighbors.

“Bown Crossing does not have enough on-street parking to justify the requested 24-space parking reduction,” SAHS attorney Deborah E. Nelson wrote in opposition to the request. Her letter lists several reasons why the application should be denied, including say a parking study conducted by the applicant was “not conducted to meet industry standards.”

The study looked at the total number of parking spaces across the Bown Crossing development for two days in late January in early February. The study, commissioned by project developer XX, looked at the number of empty spaces on a Wednesday and a Friday from 11am to noon, and 4pm-5pm. The study found an average of 46.6 empty stalls in the area during the four individual hours inspected.

Nearby resident Robert Lomas knocked the way the study was designed.

He noted the developer had mentioned the Toast breakfast bistro as a tenant, and found the traffic study to be inconsistent with that concept.

“I’m surprised there was no early day time period studied, or a weekend time studied, as breakfast restaurants in Boise certainly are exceptionally busy on weekend mornings.”

Lomas also said the 4-5pm timeslot was questionable. “The evening time period they studied was a laughable choice if I’m being frank here. Nobody would, with a straight face, suggest that the traffic in an extremely popular evening dining and entertainment area would be correctly represented by a study at 4-5pm. If I were trying to design a study to best come to a conclusion of ‘there’s plenty of room’, I would have designed it very similarly to what they presented here. “

The Southeast Boise Neighborhood Association also came out in opposition to the plan.

“It is overwhelmingly clear from correspondence received from Bown Crossing neighbors that parking has become a serious problem in the neighborhood, one which jeopardizes the prosperity of those businesses already located there,” SENA board member Fred Fritchman wrote.

The conditional use permit application is currently scheduled to be heard during the City of Boise’s Planning and Zoning commission on July 16th at Boise City Hall at 6:00pm. If it is granted the parking reduction, it would go before design review in September.

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