Baseball is out at Boise State University, but officials say they don’t know what comes next on the southwest edge of campus.
Boise City Council unanimously approved a request from the university to rezone four small parcels owned by the school between Denver and Vermont avenues in the area once set for the baseball stadium. Originally zoned for residential housing, the school requested the city rezone them for general university use.
Unoccupied, aging apartments make up most of the area. The school planned for the site to house the university’s baseball stadium for the school’s newly launched program. This summer, the pandemic caused the school to scuttle the program after just a few games.
Boise State president Dr. Marlene Tromp told BoiseDev earlier this year that the school continued to look at options.
“As we look forward as a campus that already has so much compression, and often double use of space, we are always looking at ways in our own boundaries to make sure we are using space efficiently,” Tromp said. “We know we will need to utilize new space as we grow.”
‘Important part of campus’
Drew Alexander, the capital asset manager for Boise State, said the rezone would allow the school to uniformly develop the area as it explores options for the edge of campus. He said there are no definite plans for the space yet. A neighborhood stakeholder group tossed around numerous ideas when talking about planning for the area south of campus.
“It’s an important part of campus and we will be taking great care with the use that is ultimately proposed there,” Alexander said.
As Boise State has boomed, the neighborhoods located around the school chafed under the influx of students. The lack of on-campus student housing has pushed students into the neighborhoods surrounding campus, which has fueled the construction of large duplexes with up to as many as seven bedrooms.
Neighbors balked, and city council issued a moratorium on duplex construction in 2017 and then the development of an overlay zone to regulate them in the fall of 2019. The tensions surrounding student housing and the growing university led to a stakeholder group meeting with the university to inform future planning, which is still meeting to develop suggestions.
Alexander said the university is keeping its options open for the area, but is aware of the need for student housing in the area.
“We’re back to the drawing board in a sense, but Boise State does have a new strategic plan underway and we recently completed a student housing market analysis and will use that to inform what happens in that part of campus,” he said.