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CCDC outlines what it hopes to see for ‘catalyst’ proposal: affordable housing, parking near Boise YMCA

The Capital City Development Corp. will soon release a long request for proposals for two pieces of property it owns in Downtown Boise.

BoiseDev first told you about the project last fall involving two pieces of land at 429 N. 10th Street and 1010 W. Jefferson St. Two buildings, including the old Idaho Sporting Goods store, and surface parking currently sit on the land, across from the Boise Family YMCA.

“The RFP expects proposals to raise density as well as reinvest in the city’s existing infrastructure,” CCDC Development Director Doug Woodruff said. “It’s also expecting proposals to develop more affordable housing, maintain the neighborhood fabric, further mobility initiatives in the area as well as contribute to our city’s long-term sustainability.”

[CCDC looking at redeveloping ‘super block’ off Front Street between 3rd and 5th streets]

The RFP, for “Block 68,” outlines a set of “minimum expectations” as well as “visionary outcomes,” that CCDC hopes developers will weave in. However, the word “expectations” is key, as they are not actually requirements – and a developer could go below the minimums. However, overall scoring for the proposals will award points based on the expectations and outcomes.

CCDC does not own the whole block. The NW corner is owned by the YMCA of Treasure Valley, and a small parking lot on the SE corner is owned by the State of Idaho. Proposed projects could attempt to include one or both of the additional parcels if deals can be reached, or exist only on the CCDC land. CCDC earlier held conversations with the YMCA, but its potential participation in the project is not mentioned in the RFP.

What CCDC hopes for

CCDC hopes proposals will include a number of components, including:

  • At least 225 housing units, with a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.
  • Affordable and near-market-rate housing. The RFP calls for at least 25 housing units fixed to incomes at 80% of area median income levels or lower for 15 years, and 130 units at 120% of AMI. Proposals could include more housing than the minimums.
  • Parking facilities for 200-300 cars. CCDC hopes parking on the site could help provide spaces for other future developments in the area, similar to the parking garage attached to the Home2Suites by Hilton on Front St.
    • “The goal isn’t to build more parking,” Woodruff said. “The goal is to build more housing. We can do that by building consolidated parking and building a shared resource for the neighborhood.”
  • A building of at least six stories.
  • Active ground floors, including components like retail or public amenities.
  • Upgraded design
    • “(This looks for) sustainable development through aspirational architectures that challenges the status quo here in Boise, and exemplifies to other projects in this market what is possible,” Woodruff said.

The project could provide a number of incentives, including access to a tax-exempt bond to help build the parking structure.

“That’s desirable because it’s lower cost money,” Woodruf said. “That does come with some restructions, including that 90% of parking has to be for public use.”

[Boise’s urban renewal agency will put funds toward travel center project]

CCDC said it gained appraisal for the two parcels it owned that value them at $7.5 million. CCDC could sell the land to the winning developer for less than that amount in exchange for other benefits, like more affordable housing. The agency could also provide reimbursement for streetscapes and other amenities in the public right-of-way.

Will it meet affordability goal?

The CCDC Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with the RFP, though commissioner Dave Bieter, who works as a developer for Gardner Co., expressed doubt that proposals would bring forth the hoped-for affordable housing.

“I think this is a really challenging site,” Bieter said. “We exist to get good things to happen on challenging sites. I’m going to remain pretty skeptical that much affordability is going to come out of this. We have several years of experience in this. To get housing in an urban setting is hard enough, and to make it affordable is sometimes impossible.”

Commissioner Kate Nelson said she thought the RFP was strong.

“I think this is a really strong RFP and very exciting,” she said. “I’m very inspired by the opportunity that’s provided for Block 68.I think the RFP did a lot to articulate the aspirational nature of this project. I think it’s asking a lot but it’s not asking too much. So much of the work we do at CCDC is to be a catalyst for the type of redevelopment we want to see.”

The CCDC board unanimously approved moving forward. The RFP should be released formally later this month.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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