Old Pizza Hut to give way to student housing, commercial space

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Yet another block in the Lusk Neighborhood will soon be transformed into a multi-story, mixed-use housing development. 

On Tuesday, Boise City Council unanimously approved a proposal from Gardner Company, helmed by developer David Wali, to construct a 5 story building with parking, commercial space on the ground floor, and 91 units, for a total of 282 bedrooms. The project will also include 99 parking stalls in its parking garage and 102 bike parking spaces. 

[Boise State looks to lease beds for freshmen, plans new dorm building]

A booming neighborhood

This is a similar project to one approved two weeks ago adjacent to the Greenbelt. This neighborhood’s proximity to Boise State University turned it into a growing hot spot for apartments aimed at students as housing on campus remains tight. In his remarks, land use attorney Geoff Wardle nodded to recent BoiseDev reporting showing the need for housing friendly to graduate students as a need for this project. 

“I appreciate the fact that you guys have heard multiple applications in this neighborhood related to this use and I think it’s reflective of a growing, dynamic university that has a demand for students to reside close to the university which meets and satisfies the goals,” Wardle said. 

It will be located at 818 Ann Morrison Park Drive, just west of Capitol Boulevard at the corner of Lusk Street. Wardle said plans include a first-floor lobby for residents as well as commercial space to support the neighborhood. The project will replace an existing surface parking lot and a defunct Pizza Hut. 

The project qualifies for a parking reduction from the city due to its location. It will also include what’s called tandem parking. This means spots are designed to look like one parking stall, but can fit two cars stacked one in front of the other. Wardle said Gardner Company’s property managers have experience with managing these sorts of spaces with tenants and assign them to tenants who live in the same unit to ease communication. 

Long term questions for changing area

City Council Member Holli Woodings noted an email from the owners of Jim’s Appliance & Furniture on Lusk and their concerns about how the project would impact the availability of on-street parking for their customers. She said in the long term this district could be ripe for a parking garage funded by Capital City Development Corporation, but there are other short-term fixes the city could do. 

“As I read that letter worrying about parking, to occurred to me that we haven’t seen a lot of action happen on this urban renewal area, but I can imagine in the future parking will be addressed with urban renewal funds to this entire area,” Woodings said. “We might need to establish some more parking districts in the area and we should look at that as a temporary way to alleviate that as we await the full scope of urban renewal.”

One concern from the Lusk District Neighborhood Association is the lack of housing diversity in the neighborhood as more and more projects cater to students, instead of traditional long-term residents. City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton said it wasn’t a reason to deny this project, but he said it should be something the city should consider as the area continues to develop. 

“There are some things to watch out for as far as this area goes as far as being dominated as one single type of housing that we don’t have designated in that master plan for that area,” he said. 

A 2017 proposal to build a CVS drugstore on the site did not come to fruition.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
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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