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New details outlined for affordable housing at Franklin & Orchard site: retail, walk-ups, food trucks

We now know a bit more about a proposal to add affordable housing on a site the City of Boise owns at Franklin St. and Orchard St. in Boise.

The city bought the site, formerly home to Franklin School, from convenience store chain Maverik last year. Maverik initially purchased it from the Boise School District for a gas station, after the school district closed and tore down the historic school. Maverik abandoned its plan and put the land on the market.

Boise announced in may that it selected Salt Lake City, Utah firm J. Fisher to build a mixed-use project with an affordable housing component.

The city denied a request by BoiseDev to see additional details about the project beyond the small amount of detail outlined in a May news release. The city’s then-spokesperson said no additional details would come out until the city signed a memorandum of understanding with J. Fisher.

Now, we have the memorandum of understanding in hand – and it better details the project.

Mix of housing types, retail

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116 & West

The project would include at least 210 units in a series of buildings that would mostly sit along Franklin and Orchard. A series of walk-up units would line the north side of Franklin Park. Another building, which J. Fisher calls a “razor,” would feature a set of small micro-units.

Project plans call for 12 three-bedroom apartments, 128 two-bedroom apartments and 74 1-bedroom units. In total, that would add 366 bedrooms to the site. The apartments will range from 500-1150 square feet.

Franklin and Orchard affordable housing
Future Franklin and Orchard affordable housing project site plan. Via WOW Architects

The overall height of the project will be “no less than” three stories due to “a reduction from the proposal that conforms with the maximum density for the zoning change.” Renderings the city put out in May show five-story buildings along both Franklin and Orchard, but project plans attached to the memo show four-story buildings.

The plan also calls for three small retail spaces, one at Franklin and Hilton, another at Franklin and Orchard, and a third at Orchard near Peg St.

The site plan also includes surface parking between the buildings along the streets and the walk-up units near the park. The plan calls for a total of 258 stalls. An elevated plaza would sit above the parking, connected by stairs to Franklin Park and Franklin Rd. A space for food trucks is envisioned near Hilton St.

The city will continue to own the land, and lease it back to J. Fisher. The lease price will be contingent “upon the securing of all financing for the project.”

Other project details

  • The memo calls for “no more than 90%” of the units to be affordable housing units.
  • A number of large trees along Franklin St. must be kept.
  • The project must include space for a future Valley Regional Transit bus stop.
  • J. Fisher will buy and install playground equipment for Franklin Park.
  • The developer will build and maintain a public bathroom for the park.
  • The project must break ground by September 30, 2021 unless the city and J. Fisher make another agreement.

J. Fisher Companies develops projects across the west, with many throughout Utah.  Last year it started a similar mixed-use project in Salt Lake featuring affordable housing units as well as commercial and retail space.  The Moda Meadowbrook project invested $30.1 million in a project in that city’s downtown area.

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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