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CCDC picks largest of three proposals for affordable housing at 17th & Idaho

The Capital City Development Corporation made its preliminary choice for a new development at the corner of 17th St. and Idaho St. in Downtown Boise.

The agency will start negotiating with a team that includes Boise firm SMR Development, as well as deChase Miksis and Edlen Co.

The project topped two other proposals for the site. If negotiations don’t work out with the SMR group, CCDC could move on to the other proposals.

[‘A big project:’ CCDC wants mixed-use, affordable housing project in west downtown]

The agency’s nine-member board of commissioners each were asked to submit rankings of the three projects on criteria including neighborhood design and context, potential to serve as a catalyst for future development, development schedule, and sustainability. The agency did not reveal how each commissioner ranked, instead anonymizing the individual results. Each commissioner generally ranked the projects in the same order, and all seven commissioners who provided rankings named the SMR project their top choice or tied for the top pick.

Several commissioners revealed how they ranked during the meeting, including Ryan Woodings and Maryann Jordan. Former Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said he did not provide rankings due to concerns with specificity, and current Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she missed a deadline to provide rankings, though she agreed with the final outcome.

SMR Development is headed by former CCDC employee Shellan Rodriguez.

SMR’s proposal

SMR 1715 W. Idaho
Site plan for the proposed project at 17th St. and Idaho St. in Boise. Via PivotNorth

SMR Development’s proposal goes bigger than the other two.

The design pitches 45 units stretching several parcels in addition to the CCDC owned property. Rodriguez said her goal is to build a three-floor building with 12 studios, 10 one-bedroom, and 12 two bedrooms covering a large portion of the block.

To do this, Rodriguez said her firm and partners worked out agreements with the nearby New Life Apostolic Church, Rock Hard Granite and an HVAC company to acquire the necessary properties to build the larger structure. It would entail a land swap with the church to give them access to a parking lot on Main Street, currently owned by Rock Hard Granite. This would allow Rodriguez to develop the church’s current parking lot at the corner of Idaho and 18th.

Rodriguez said the project will rent to those holding Housing Choice Vouchers for low-income residents, with $800 one bedrooms and $1,000 two bedrooms. The project will also include units for those making 80% AMI, which would rent for $1,200 for a one bedroom and $1,500 for a two income household. It would also rent to those making 100% AMI or less with rates of $1,350 for a one bedroom and $1,680 for a two bedroom.

Rodriguez said the project is relying on the City of Boisepassing it’s proposed Housing Bonus Ordinance, which allows developers to build denser projects if they provide affordable housing or other things the city is hoping to incentivize. She said if that was not passed, the project would require a rezoning. When asked about the proposal to develop the larger area, Rodriguez said the city’s housing needs required a bigger project this close to downtown.

SMR’s proposal aims to open the units to the market by early 2023.

Commissioners on their pick

“We need more housing that fits Boise budgets ad different affordability levels,” McLean said. “I hope that we can do more with the City and CCDC more going forward. I really liked that (SMR) looked at the variety of tools that the city has, including the housing bonus ordinance, and made it pencil for affordability.

“I do think it met all the criteria,” commissioner Maryanne Jordan said. “It’s important to note that with integration with the neighborhood, the area surrounding it is very different on one side than it is on the other side. This is a transitional development.I had an appreciation that it integrated into the full block, which I thought was really forward-thinking and was very much in keeping with what we are trying to achieve here.”

“This was a tough one for me between SMR and McCarty Flats. I liked them both a lot. In my ranking, I put them tied,” commissioner Ryan Woodings said. “Just what SMR has in there with investment and potential catalyst for the whole block, it edged it out ever-so-slightly. I think they’re both exciting. I hope we can get McCarty Flats to go somewhere else, not using this project – I think it’s a great project.”

The board voted unanimously to start negotiations with the SMR team.

Don Day & Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev
Don Day is founder & editor of BoiseDev. Margaret Carmel is the City of Boise reporter for BoiseDev.

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