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Garden City just approved a big plan to remake 34th St. One of the developers already asked to cancel it

Fast in the Morning

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On August 12th – the Garden City City Council adopted an extensive plan to remake 34th Street. The project, through a so-called ‘specific plan,’ would makeover nearly 40 parcels in the area.

But just ten days after the approval, one of the developers asked the city council to rescind the plan.

In a letter dated August 22nd, Richard M. Phillips asked Garden City Mayor John Evans to roll back the plan the city just approved. BoiseDev obtained the letter through a public records request with Garden City.

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“Please accept this letter on behalf of Urban Willow LLC as a request for reconsideration of the City Council’s approval of the (34th Street plan),” the letter said. “Specifically, Urban Willow LLC requests that the 34th Street Area Plans be rescinded on the basis that the 34th Street Area Plans includes certain conditions that negatively affect the development potential and marketability of the subject parcels in the current economic environment.”

The letter also said that former Star Mayor Nate Mitchell is the “sole authorized agent” for Urban Willow, LLC. Urban Willow is the company formed by Phillips and Hannah Ball that applied for the specific area plan. The State of Idaho lists both Ball and Phillips as managers of the LLC.

In recent months, Ball has been a public face for the project, appearing in the Idaho Press, Idaho Statesman and KTVB.

Mitchell told BoiseDev that Phillips and Ball have a “disagreement,” but he wouldn’t comment any further.

Phillips did not respond to a message left at his business.

Partner ‘shocked’

Ball said she is “pretty shocked” about the letter.

“Ever since the letter was sent, communication was very muddled,” Ball said. “There has been no clear intent.”

Ball said the letter was delivered to Garden City officials an hour after she said she closed on the sale of a parcel. She said before the letter, Phillips supported the project.

“He’s been very positive of the application,” she said. “But he’s always been in this investor role. He’s never been to the meetings, he’s never really cared about anything. He’s been pretty neutral. Pretty open-minded.”

Before the letter, Ball said the partners communicate regularly.

“I don’t know if he’s unhappy with the returns or the entitlements or the partnership,” she said. “To this day I don’t have any specifics to what they would truly want to see.”

What is the plan?

The 75-page specific area plan is Garden City’s first. The SAP is similar to frameworks used for Boise’s Harris Ranch & Locale, as well as Avimor in Ada County.

For 34th Street, the plan outlines extensive live/work townhomes, mixed-use buildings, underground parking, parklets, plazas and other features. It would dictate how development could move forward on the 36 properties owned by Urban Willow, as well as on parcels owned by three other parties who agreed to join in.

“Our 34th Street Specific Area Plan is designed to be very interactive, each use and design is carefully selected to allow for a experience (sic) by just taking a walk,” the document notes.

The plan says it applies so-called ‘smart growth’ principles. The document touts a self-assessed score of 94 out of 100 on a worksheet from Idaho Smart Growth.

The Garden City City Council voted August 26th to hold off on consideration of the request to rescind the plan until October.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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