An email between City of Boise officials shows that an Atlanta developer is no longer looking to purchase a West End property earmarked for a sports park.
A Dec. 6 email from Boise’s director of comprehensive planning, Daren Fluke, to other city officials says Chris Schoen, a developer with Greenstone Properties and a business partner of the Boise Hawks’ owner, will not purchase a 6.5-acre parcel at the corner of Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard.
Adam Park, Boise’s community engagement director, said the city has no more information available and only Schoen or Roundhouse can give further details. Neither party could be reached Monday afternoon.
The property for the past year and a half has been considered a potential site for the stadium, a shift from earlier plans to build it at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive.
The West End site is owned by an LLC associated with Los Angeles-based developer Roundhouse, formerly LocalConstruct. Roundhouse told the Idaho Statesman in July 2018 that it was negotiating the potential sale of the property to Greenstone for a sports park and multiuse development. Under an early proposal discussed in 2017, Boise would contribute $3 million in cash to the project, and part of the stadium construction would be financed with a bond through city urban renewal agency Capital City Development Corporation.
The stadium faced significant opposition and became a talking point during the 2019 Boise mayoral election, where outgoing Mayor Dave Bieter was the project’s sole defender in a field of seven candidates all aiming to take the helm of Idaho’s largest city. He was defeated by City Council President Lauren McLean, who opposes the project.
In the Dec. 6 email from Fluke to Bieter’s Chief of Staff Jade Riley, Economic Development Director Sean Keithly and Director of Planning and Development Services Mark Lavin, Fluke said because the property will no longer be purchased by the stadium developer, Roundhouse needs to slightly renegotiate the details of a development agreement on the site.
Currently, the company is required to build a road through the property, which was originally planned to align with 29th Street. Roundhouse is requesting to realign it with 28th Street instead.
Roundhouse obtained the parcel in a land swap with the city of Boise in 2016 in exchange for Spaulding Ranch in the West Bench. Originally, the plan was for Roundhouse to develop a mixed-use parcel with residential units, office space, retail and walking trails. It is unclear if this is still Roundhouse’s plan for the area.
Because the Whitewater Park Boulevard property and Spaulding Ranch were not equal in value, the city put requirements on Roundhouse that would make the swap equitable as required by Idaho state statute. According to city spokesman Mike Journee in 2018, the agreement mandated the company construct a road through the parcel to improve connectivity in the area as well as 10 affordable housing units.
Under the agreement, which still stands, Roundhouse was supposed to have begun construction on the connecting road through the parcel by July 2018. If the company has not built the street, 50 residential units, and 10,000 square feet of office and retail space by April 2021, the city then can repurchase the property at market value.
In March of 2019, an LLC tied to Greenstone properties purchased The Symposion bar property near the proposed stadium site in the West End. According to the Ada County Assessor’s website, this LLC, called HBCBP, still owns the property. The bar is still operating.
The sports park project has had two road blocks thrown up in the past year. At the end of 2018, citizens group Boise Working Together successfully gathered enough signatures to put a ballot initiative to the voters asking if they would like a vote on any stadium project valuing more than $5 million of either public or private funds.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, new legislation passed that tightens the restrictions on what projects using urban renewal funds require voter approval before they can move forward. After the Gov. Brad Little signed the bill into law, neither city officials or urban renewal agency staff would say definitively whether or not the stadium was impacted.