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Ahlquist, ICCU plan tall new addition to Boise skyline

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The Boise skyline could see a dramatic change in coming years, if a new project from Ball Ventures Ahlquist and Idaho Central Credit Union comes to fruition.

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The two companies will submit applications with the City of Boise for a new building with two towers, reaching up to sixteen stories high. The project would bring a mixed-use offering, with traditional and medical office, a credit union branch, parking, condos, and workforce apartments.

The building would replace a 1970s era ICCU branch and surface parking lots at the corner of 4th St. and Idaho St. It would rank as one of Boise’s tallest buildings, just a few stories shorter than the 8th & Main Building and US Bank Building.

Tommy Ahlquist, CEO of BVA, said the project came about went Kent Oram of ICCU approached him about what to do with the current branch on Idaho St. The two partnered on another project for back-office facilities for the credit union in Meridian.

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What’s planned

  • Ground floor: A new ICCU branch with internal drive-thru and Saltzer Health clinic
  • Second through sixth floors: Parking structure for 460 vehicles and bicycle storage
  • Then, the buildings fork into two towers.
    • Southern tower:
      • Seventh through ninth floors: Multi-family workforce-rate housing with 39 units. A mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
    • Northern tower:
      • Seventh through 14th floors: Office space, both medical and traditional
      • 15th and 16th floors: Four to eight condos and mechanical penthouse
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Idaho Central Credit Union Business Banking
Fast in the Morning Wild 101

Ahlquist said they took what they learned at projects his team worked on in Downtown Boise before – the 8th & Main Building, City Center Plaza and Pioneer Crossing – and apply it here.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on architecture,” Ahlquist said. “We tried to build something that harmonizes with what’s going on in that part of town. We looked at how to make this a mixed-use project and bring in some housing elements.”

Renderings show a mix of colors and styles, including white, bronze and “ICCU green” accents. Nighttime views include dramatic lighting along lower floors with pops of green from the ICCU and Saltzer branding schemes.

If approved by the City of Boise, the building would stand taller than any other for several blocks in any direction. Across 3rd Street, the 1960s-era Imperial Plaza residential building stands 12 stories. The new project sits in the Boise skyline as viewed from the bench between the CW Moore Plaza building and St Luke’s campus.

“This is a little bit on the outskirts of the downtown core,” Ahlquist said. “It’s going to be part off the new fabric of the skyline between downtown and St. Luke’s.”

St. Luke’s Health System started work on a multi-year master plan that would supplement its current ten-story hospital tower a few blocks away.

Two types of housing

The project will include two separate housing components. The south tower will feature three stories of apartments, targeted at workforce housing.

“The importance of integrating housing into this project was key,” development attorney Geoff Wardle said. “The challenge was, how do you balance the issues and interests of the various plans in Downtown Boise and the various goals?”

“We’ll have a joint venture partner for the apartments, that this is their field of expertise,” Ahlquist said. “We’ll work with them to determine cost structure and pricing. We know it’s a need for more housing downtown. We want to provide workforce housing that people can afford.”

The north tower apartments include outdoor balcony space. The majority of the units – 33 – would include one bedroom. Three two-bedroom and three studios round out the plan.

In the south tower, Ahlquist said the four to eight condos will be higher end.

“it gives you two different housing types on the top of the project.”

Parking, connections and bikes

The current ICCU branch at 4th and Idaho was built in 1979. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

The new downtown ICCU project will include as many as 460 parking spaces on five stories.

“We are replacing the existing ICCU building and a parking lot on the north side. CCDC and the City of Boise long identified that as a location for a parking structure,” Wardle said of the city and its urban renewal agency the Capital City Development Corporation. “We knew we were going to have to replace parking and the bank branch. This is the first time that we’ve got office, retail, parking and housing all integrated.”

Wardle said they worked to put extra design effort into the garage, which takes up five floors of the project.

ICCU Building Boise

“It’s going to take a variety of treatments. You don’t want it to just be a massive garage,” he said. “We’ve purposefully carried the line of the building down even though it’s along the garage. On the (apartment) side we changed the treatment to give it a different look.”

Wardle and Ahlquist said they hope that by replacing the current ICCU branch, which doesn’t face the main thoroughfare of Idaho St., they boost pedestrian and streetside activity.

“Our goal would be to have a facility that is connected and integrated, with improved bike lanes and detached sidewalks,” Wardle said.

Ahlquist said they want to help carry on some of the infrastructure work planned and completed by St. Luke’s further east on Bannock St. – which runs on the north side of the Idaho Central Credit Union Building.

“We’ll work with CCDC and ACHD and neighbors to try and improve that connectivity,” he said. They would look to seek funds from the urban renewal agency to help build sidewalk improvements on the project. The site sits inside the agency’s River-Myrtle/Old Boise urban renewal district.

Medical office a need

Ahlquist, a former emergency doctor and co-owner of Saltzer Health, said the expansion of St. Luke’s opens a need for medical office facilities in the area.

“Because of the proximity to St. Luke’s we know this will be a great medical use space,” he said. “We’ve been looking at medical office in the east side of downtown for five years. It’s a very large corporate campus for St Luke’s, and really any corner down there is owned by the hospital. We’ve known this has been an unmet need for the medical community for a long time.”

He said doctors not employed by St. Luke’s, but who still need close access to the regional medical center could find a home in the project.

Separate lobbies, office use

The ground floor will feature two separate lobby areas – one for the medical office floors, and a separate for the traditional office floors and condos.

It will also include a 5,000 square foot ICCU branch as well as the 5,600 square foot Saltzer Health urgent care clinic.

Saltzer and ICCU will take up some of the office space, with other area for lease.

Next steps

Idaho Central Credit Union Building rendering aerial. Via Cushing Terrell

BVA plans to submit an application for the project next week. They will need to seek rezoning approval for the project as well as a conditional use permit related to the bank drive-thru.

The proposed site includes seven lots, each of which carries Boise’s R-OD zoning designation. That’s jargon for residential/office. They hope to gain C-5 zoning, more jargon for the city’s central business district. The land just across 4th St. currently carries a C-5 zone.

If the city signs off on all the needed pieces, Ahlquist said they hope to start building next spring. He said the project slowed a bit in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of some city offices and hearings. But he remains confident in the project moving forward.

“We are going to recover from this – 100%. We know what caused it, we know we are in a great place, we love everything about the future of Idaho,” Ahlquist said. “Everyone loves coming here, we’re growing – that’s not going to change with COVID.”

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