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Bown retail/restaurant project proposed again with new approach

After nearly two years, the developer of a restaurant and retail space in Bown Crossing got the answer they’d feared: no.

In May, the Boise City Council denied an appeal for a parking reduction on the site at the corner of Bown Way and ParkCenter Blvd.

During the public hearing, the developer’s representative teased the idea of taking the denial to court.

But now, they are back with a new application to the City of Boise.

The project remains nearly identical. A restaurant. Some retail. Limited parking. The project now measures at “approximately 6,700 square feet versus the previous 6,930 square foot proposal.

[A breakfast bistro in Bown Crossing? Not for now as city council denies appeal over parking]

Now asking for a rezone

So what changed?

The approach.

Instead of only asking for a parking reduction, the developer wants to rezone the parcel to Boise’s ‘pedestrian commercial’ classification.

Here’s how Boise’s planning folks describe that zoning type:

“Zone intended for pedestrian-friendly retail, office, and mixed-use developments in a pedestrian-friendly environment. This zone allows integrated residential uses up to 43.5 units per acre with a height maximum from 35 to 50 feet depending on the adjacent roadways.”

The application says the zoning change is appropriate because of what’s around the lot.

[Deep Dive: Boise to revamp zoning code. What it means and how the city could change]

“The Conditional Use will seek a parking reduction for the building, and the rezone from C-1 to PC is requested because the lot is entirely surrounded by Pedestrian Commercial (PD) and we feel it is appropriate that this lot be the same,” John Day with Slichter Urgin Architecture wrote in an application letter.

However, a look at the current Boise zoning map shows this is not accurate. The lot shares the C-1 zoning with the lot to the west, as well as the two lots to the east. To the north, the residential areas carry R-1 zoning. Only the parcel immediately south of the lot shares the PCD zoning.

Bown Crossing Boise
City of Boise zoning map shows 3047 S. Bown Way and the other parcels around it. Via City of Boise

Parking still the issue

Neighbors pushed back on the development primarily over parking. The latest version of the proposal includes 14 parking spots – and would require a reduction of nine parking spaces. Neighbors across the Bown area expressed frustration that the project would add more cars to an already-stressed situation.

Ryan Faber, who owns Eastside Cycles in the development says as a member of the cycling community, he supports development that favors alternative transportation – but says the current parking situation in the development is strained. He spoke out during the city council hearing in May.

“I ask that the city have a plan instead of a haphazard approach to parking,” he said. “I’m very observant of bike patrons in our area. And while there are a good number of people who ride to our areas, there are a handful of months that Bown is very busy where people are not set up to ride. They can’t always choose to use alternative transportation.”

“The is the only lot zoned C-1D in the surrounding development,” Day wrote. “While our proposed building lot is not actually zoned as pedestrian commercial (PC-D) it is nonetheless a part of Bown Crossing and is only accessible through the Bown Crossing Marketplace West so to exclude it from the concept of pedestrian oriented zoning standards is simply impossible, therefor (sic) we would request a change in zoning.”

Day (no relation) seems to be making the narrow case that the Bown development only includes the five main buildings at the corner of Bown and Riverwalk. However, the Saint Alphonsus clinic, Boise Library, hair salon, medical offices and other parts of the development hold a C-1 zone like the proposed restaurant site.

The latest version of the proposal will go to Boise’s Planning and Zoning commission on November 4th.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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