First, it looked like a hotel might go up in Garden City. Now, the tallest condo project in Idaho could go up instead.
Boise developer Michael Talbott is changing course on his proposal to bring an 8-story hotel to Garden City along the Greenbelt at 510 East 41st Street. Instead, his firm, Vida Properties, is hoping to build an 18-story, 111 unit condominium building with roughly 2,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
At 252 feet tall, the building would only be shorter than the Eighth and Main Building at 323 feet and US Bank Building at 267 feet. It would be a bit taller than another residential project currently proposed in Boise – Ovation, which would stand 231 feet tall.
On Tuesday, Talbott appeared before the Garden City Design Review Committee to discuss his proposal to switch up the plan. This tower, if approved, will be part of his larger plan for the area, which also includes restaurants, a public plaza, and two buildings with a total of 275 apartment units. Garden City originally approved the project in 2019.
At the meeting, Talbott said they decided to go for the condominiums in a taller tower instead after studying demand for hotel rooms.
“We just decided a hotel would be a tough play in this market,” Talbott told the committee. ”We thought a high-rise residential tower is an unknown, but popular, project in this city.”
This meeting was a pre-application discussion. It will have a public hearing before the Design Review Committee in the coming weeks when the committee could vote to approve the project. The project is located in a commercial zone with no density or height limits so it does not need Planning & Zoning Commission or City Council approval.
A hearing date has not yet been set.
A little bit of Singapore in Garden City?
The proposed project will maintain roughly the same footprint as the hotel, but will include fewer parking spaces because it is a residential project. It will have an outdoor lounge and fitness center on the ninth floor.
The project will include 198 parking spaces in a parking garage for residents and 21 surface parking spaces for guests and retail, plus 111 bike parking spaces.
Project Architect Chad Weltzin, with Erstad Architects, said the project might be taller, but it will generate far less car traffic than a hotel. He said the location, which is near a light industrial use, Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, and the Boise River makes it ideal for a tall building.
Weltzin likened the project to a boardwalk in Singapore with skyscrapers are placed right up against the river, providing an interesting “surprise” for those walking and biking along the Greenbelt.
“We think the height is what makes it exciting,” Weltzin told the commission.
What did the commissioners think?
Only two of the three commissioners were present at Tuesday’s meeting and they were divided on the proposal.
Maureen Gresham said she liked the design and the location, but she thought 18 stories was too high. It would be likely visible from the backyards of homeowners within half a mile of the property and she wanted to hear the public’s thoughts on it before totally making up her mind.
“It’s a drastic step up,” she said, during the hearing.
Her fellow commissioner Brett Labrie was impressed with the proposal. He said the surrounding apartment developments build in height toward the tower, making it an “aggressive and bold” focal point for the area to draw people in.
“When I first looked at it I thought ‘wow it’s such a big change,’ but the more I looked at it I don’t have a problem with the height,” Labrie said. “I kind of like it.”