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Boise’s Franklin & Orchard housing project gets the go-ahead from city council

BoiseDev Project Tracker

A project that would add more than 200 units of affordable housing to the Central Bench cleared another hurdle this week.

Boise City Council unanimously voted to rezone roughly five acres at the corner of Orchard Street and Franklin Road on Tuesday night, paving the way for a mixed-use project to develop affordable housing. The site, the location of the former Franklin School, will be developed in a public-private partnership between the City of Boise and Utah-based J. Fisher to bring housing to a major intersection.

[Boise Council passes ordinance that aims to boost affordable housing, with changes]

Plans include at least 210 units along Franklin and Orchard, including 12 three-bedroom apartments, 128 two-bedrooms, and 74 with one bedroom. The buildings will sit close to the street, wrapping around Franklin Park.

A long time coming

Rendering provided by the City of Boise of a potential mixed-use project at Franklin St. and Orchard St. in Boise.

Council members praised the project Tuesday night, noting its proximity to a Valley Regional Transit line, Fred Meyer and other commercial shopping. Council Member Holli Woodings said the project has been a major point of interest for her over the past few years.

“I think it really laid the groundwork for how we can leverage our ability to hold land in the future to be able to provide some of the affordable housing our community so desperately needs,” she said.

The project is the city’s first for its affordable housing land trust, which will lease publicly owned land to developers in exchange for lower rents for years. Boise first purchased the site in 2019 under former Mayor Dave Bieter in the hopes of developing housing, and work to select a developer to build the project continued under Mayor Lauren McLean.

She was a major advocate for the Housing Land Trust in recent years and expressed gratitude for council’s support. The city is currently working on purchasing a handful of other properties in the city for housing developments.

“This is a great proof of concept of our goals for an affordable housing land trust,” she said.

A changing corner

Only one resident spoke up against the project. Adam Phillips said nearby neighbors were concerned with the proposal because of the additional traffic and noise it would bring to the area. He said the idea of the development is pushing people out of the area.

“I’m not intending my comments to be accusatory toward anyone, but there are a lot of us who have been in discussion with realtors and this could be the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as getting out of this area of town, which feels like a shame,” he said.

Maverik originally planned a gas station for part of the site, but plans fell through after neighborhood opposition and Boise later purchased it from the company.

J. Fisher must break ground by the end of September or sign a new agreement with the city, according to the terms of the partnership.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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