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Wisconsin developer calls tall Downtown Boise apartment & parking project ‘first-of-its-kind’

BoiseDev Project Tracker

The City of Boise uploaded additional documents related to a new 19-story apartment and parking project planned for Downtown Boise. They add detail to the story BoiseDev first brought you on Monday on the project at 6th St. and Front St.

The project is modeled on a similar, but shorter, project in Madison Wisconsin, known as Ovation 309. Both projects are designed by Wisoncsin firm EAU.

“Ovation will be a landmark, first-of-its-kind building in the dynamic Boise market. Ovation will set a bold new standard for development in Boise,” Hovde Properties President Randy Guenther wrote in an application letter. “Ovation is modeled upon our proven and highly successful 2015 urban mixed-use development in Madison, WI which at the time was also a first of its kind to the city. The Madison development is a well-received urban mixed-use development…”

The project letter does not explain how the project is ‘first-of-its-kind’ in Boise. The city has several mixed-use apartment buildings and several buildings taller in height, including buildings a similar height with mixed-use residential.

Parking, apartments, amenities

Elevation for Ovation in Boise shows the project stepping back as it rises skyward. Via EUA

The project would start with a wider base for its first five stories, stepping back to a tower design for the remaining floors. The sixth floor would include outdoor space, as well as a pool and spa area. The rooftop would include a “sky lounge” with outdoor seating.

If approved and built, Ovation would include 209 apartments, 209 parking spaces and parking for 85 bikes. The city requires no parking for this area and parking for 209 bikes.

The parking garage on the first five levels would largely be screened from view, Guenther wrote.

[19-story condo tower planned for Downtown Boise]

“As we move up the building the parking levels have been concealed from view on all but a portion of the Front Street elevation,” he. “At this elevation, we have downplayed the garage openings by surrounding them with metal panels and introduced a metal screening material to reduce the parking openings (sic) exposure to the street.”

The project would include one retail space at the corner of 6th St. and Broad St., with the rest of the first floor dedicated to back-office, parking and a fitness center for residents.

The parking garage wall next to the former Concordia Law building would be left mostly blank, with the application letter saying a mural could be painted on the wall ahead of any possible redevelopment of that site.

As we reported Monday, Ovation would include 19 studio, 98 one-bedroom, 79 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom apartments, for a total of 314 bedrooms.

Streetscape standard

Site plan for Ovation. Front Street is along the left side, 6th St. along the bottom and Broad St. to the right.

The developer plans to remove the current landscaped grass strip along Front St., and replace it largely with concrete. The design provided does not meet the City of Boise’s downtown streetscape standard for the block – which is known as “urban parkway.”

“The standards are established to provide a strong visual statement with a double rather than single row of street trees in tree lawn, adequate room for pedestrian movement, and a buffer between pedestrians and relatively heavy auto and truck traffic,” the city said of the standard in its manual.

[City of Trees joins global initiative to plant (even more) trees 🌳]

But Hovde hopes to take another approach – telling city planners what it terms “more appropriate” for the site, noting that Front St. transitions to a different standard, known as “urban concrete” on the next block

The urban parkway standard requires more trees, more street furnishes like benches, and a landscape strip like the one that currently exists on the property.

“As the city expands, the urban concrete street frontage will be more appropriate for more dense environments which is why we have designated the frontage along Front Street in line with urban concrete frontage standards.”

The letter indicates that the newly-constructed Home2Suites by Hilton project across Front St. is “more inline” with the urban concrete standard.

The Home2Suites project includes a ground-level lobby, restaurant, and patio space along Front. Floorplans for Ovation indicate Front St. will not include a significant level of street-level activation, with a fitness center, offices, and the side of the lobby – which will open on to 6th St.

The city’s standard says the urban concrete zone “is generally located in business and mixed-use districts where there is a concentration of higher intensity development, ground floor retail, restaurants and entertainment uses, and on street parking.” Other than the high-intensity use of the overall project, The Ovation plan does not include these elements.

The City of Boise tells BoiseDev a design review hearing for the project could be held in August.

Correction: EAU is based in Wisconsin, not Minnesota.

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Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
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 don@boisedev.com.

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