Boise’s housing need is undeniably growing, but the question of where those houses go is often a sore spot for Boise’s neighborhoods that have, until recently, remained untouched. That’s what Joni Babcock and her neighbors feel as development slowly creeps into the West End neighborhood.
“We’re not just dead-set against it,” she said.
Babcock and a group of neighbors have recently rallied against a new development in the neighborhood—a seven-unit condo building that would replace an older home on the corner of 25th and Bannock streets. It’s a project by Trig Point Capital, a Denver-based real estate developer.
Neighbors concerned over fit
The house that the condo building would replace is a classic vintage home. While its facade is cracking and chipped, it still has much of its original character. It also fits in line with the rest of the street, which is one of Babcock and her neighbors’ biggest concerns: Modern development doesn’t fit with the neighborhood’s aesthetic.
The narrow alleyways are not suited to multi-family development garages. There’s historical continuity, and this development, to the residents’ minds, would disrupt that historical throughline, Babcock said. The project is up for discussion at the Monday, March 9, Boise Planning and Zoning meeting, and Babcock has encouraged the entire neighborhood to show up for it. If it gets the green light, it will go before Boise City Council for final approval.
The area is zoned R3-D, which means multi-family developments are allowed, and the developer dropped the number of units from nine to seven after meeting with the residents. Still, development paves the way for more development, Babcock said.
“I just think this is a can of worms this dude has opened,” she said.
Rae Brooks, former president and member of the neighborhood association, has a different take than many of the neighbors. She doesn’t live on Bannock Street, but she said if people want to stop these developments, they need to speak up. At a certain point, however, development needs to happen somewhere.
“We’ve got to come to terms with this,” she said.
Brooks does agree with the neighbors that the development doesn’t fit in line with the neighborhood, and that these sorts of developments would be better off on the other side of 27th Street. She also pointed out, however, that the existing neighborhood is the plot of old dairy farming land. At a certain point in history, people probably didn’t like that turning to residential units, too, she said.
Adds medium-density housing
Blane Harvey, the developer with Trig Point Capital at the reins of this project, doesn’t see himself as the “big bad developer,” and said that this project will add the medium-density housing that the region needs. While Harvey is based out of Denver currently, he spends most of his time in Boise. He owns a home here, too. He rejected the rumors that he was door-knocking trying to buy the street, but said it’s likely happening—he gets regular offers to buy his Boise house, too, he said.
“I think this is that medium-density product that we’re trying to find a need for, and we’re trying to do exactly that,” he said.
The condos in this development would sell in the $300,000 range. That’s not a firm number, but that is the plan as of now. To him, it’s all about finding a balance where people can still afford to buy a place and meeting the needs of Boise growth, Harvey said.
According to numbers from the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service, the median price for a single-family home in Boise was roughly $363,000 in January of 2020—the most recent numbers available. New houses sold for a median price of $419,000, while existing homes sold for $340,000, according to the data. Over the year preceding January 2020, there were roughly $4.1 billion in home sales in Ada County alone.
“That’s always the hard part in these neighborhoods,” Harvey said. “The city wants more housing and more affordability.”
A major concern from the neighbors is the proximity to their houses, with the plot where this project would be built abutting the neighboring house by only a few feet. Harvey gets that concern, he said. However, he believes that a lot of these feelings will subside over time.
“We’re one of the early ones in, and they’re kind of wary of new construction in their neighborhood,” he said.