The City of Boise’s plan to build affordable housing on part of the old Smoky Davis site along State St. is quietly moving forward.
The city announced it purchased the site for its Housing Land Trust, with the goal of building apartments and some commercial space.
“We are at a critical moment in time,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said earlier this year. “Housing affordability is top of mind for so many Boise residents, at every age, income level, and demographic. As a city, we are working hard to identify and maximize opportunities to relieve as much of the very real pressure our residents are feeling around housing. The land at State and Arthur will allow us to do just that – develop housing at affordable rates for many of our community members.”
The city chose an application from the Pacific Companies earlier this year, and now design firm GGLO has applied to hold a neighborhood meeting on the site. A date for the meeting isn’t noted in the application. The city put out a competitive bid process earlier this year and spent the summer and fall reviewing proposals.
Public outreach planned
The company told the city it planned to hold a neighborhood meeting for a project on the State and Arthur site – with “five-story affordable apartments with ground floor structure parking and commercial.”
This will be Boise’s second Housing Land Trust project. It’s also at work on a mixed-use apartment and commercial center on the former Franklin School site on the Boise Bench. The city said it would start construction in fall of 2021, but that deadline has passed and work has not yet started. The developer on that project, J. Fischer Companies, applied for building permits on the site in September and November, but they have not yet been approved.
The Housing Land Trust model involves the city buying and owning the land, with a private developer building a project on top. The city keeps the land and establishes a lease agreement requiring affordability, and the developer owns the buildings. The city says this mechanism will allow it to bring incentives to developers to build housing units at rents below the average market rates.
The Smoky Davis meat shop and restaurant operated for years on the State and Arthur site, before it closed for improvements to State St. Smoky Davis’ owner sued the Ada County Highway District over the valuation of the land. Later, the City of Boise purchased the remaining land unused by ACHD, and earmarked it for affordable housing.