A large empty lot used to be the place generations of Idahoans went to buy a Chevrolet. But since 1997, the large piece of ground at Fairview Ave. and 27th St. has been largely vacant. Plans for a police station, an entertainment center, and a Boise baseball stadium all came and went.
Now, Boise-based Roundhouse plans to develop part of the old car lot – as well as a vacant US Bank location, the first phase of a multi-year project that could breathe new life into Boise’s west downtown.
At first glance, Whitewater Phase I looks like many of the other apartment projects we cover on BoiseDev. Ground floor commercial space and two lower floors of structured parking with five stories of apartments above. But Whitewater will include a number of features that aren’t as common.
- The project would include 169 apartment units, which includes six units for low-income residents and five apartments for very low-income residents. The rest of the homes will be at normal market rates.
- Construction will feature modular units built in Nampa at Autovol. The robot-built housing units will roll off the assembly line in Canyon County for delivery to the Boise site.
- A large commercial space is targeted for a daycare center.
- Whitewater Phase I will be built to meet sustainable construction guidelines established by the Passive House Institute.
“This will be the first phase of a multi-phase, multi-year development in Boise’s Westend neighborhood,” Roundhouse VP Patrick Boel told BoiseDev. “Whitewater is an effort to deliver highly sustainable and innovative mixed-use multifamily housing to the west side of downtown.”
The plan calls for two buildings at the corner of Fairview Ave. and 27th St., connected by a two-story lobby structure. They would take the place of the current US Bank building and parking on the site. The bank location closed in 2019, and Roundhouse later bought the site.
A new extension of 28th St. will cross the site. Currently, 28th is vacated across the site. Roundhouse acquired the old Roundtree portion of the land from the City of Boise, which at one point hoped to build a new headquarters for Boise Police. It traded for the Spaulding Park land on the Boise Bench – and one of the requirements was to build a road north-to-south through the site. Roundhouse negotiated with the City of Boise to build a new 28th St. instead of a new 29th St. as originally planned.
The eleven affordable housing units are also part of Roundhouse’s agreement with the city. Boise required five apartments rent to Boiseans who make 60% of the area median income or less, with six units priced for this making 80% AMI.
The first two stories of the buildings would go up using traditional manufacturing methods – with a concrete podium. Inside, structured parking for cars would be surrounded by commercial space, a resident co-working space, bike storage and other features.
Daycare, modular components key
Boel said the potential daycare is a key component.
“(The) 11,000 square foot commercial space… is being programmed for a daycare center,” he said. “Boise is badly in need of additional childcare facilities and often the cost to develop doesn’t make financial sense. We want to help address this issue so we are building space that can be leased to a childcare operator.”
As BoiseDev has reported, childcare in Boise is often hard to come by, and there’s a large gap between the number of kids needing care and the number of spaces available.
While construction on the podium is underway, the Autovol factory will start cranking out the individual residential units, outfitted with interior finishing. Trucks would deliver them from Nampa to Boise and cranes would hoist them into place. Then, on-site crews will add exterior features like cladding and balconies.
Roundhouse says the process will allow it to build the project more quickly and at a lower cost than it could otherwise.
“Idaho has been a pioneer in offsite building techniques like modular construction for decades, and Whitewater will showcase modular technology above the podium,” Boel said. “This will help bring housing units to the market faster and help mitigate labor and supply chain constraints.”
The design will feature a number of elements to meet the Passive House certification.
“The City of Boise has committed to using 100% clean energy by 2035, and becoming a carbon-neutral community by 2050,” Boel said. Whitewater aligns with these commitments, bringing a project to Boise that goes above and beyond traditional sustainability measures. Whitewater is targeting Passive House – a certified design method and energy model that reduces the impact of carbon emissions, substantially lowers energy costs, and provides better air quality than apartment buildings meeting baseline code requirements.”
Roundhouse says the technique will help not only with environmental concerns, but also provide comfortable interior spaces for residents.
The first phase of Whitewater will need design review and other approvals from the City of Boise. Roundhouse says it hopes to break ground late next year and start welcoming residents in the summer of 2024.
The first phase of Whitewater could join two other apartment projects in the area that are in the works – including The Fletcher and another concept at 27th & Fairview. If all three are built it would add nearly 700 apartments in the west downtown area.