An aspiring developer might have lost the battle for his vision of an innovative shipping container park at Garden City City Council, but he just won the war in court.
In October 2019, Wee Boise, a development company owned by Jason Jones and his wife Kristen, filed an application to create a 6,000 square foot, multi-story development with spaces for craft brewers, artists food vendors, and living spaces out of dozens of shipping containers. He planned the concept for a property he owns at 208 E. 33rd Street, in the city’s Live Work Create District near Garden City’s 34th Street Market and Telaya Wine Company along the Boise River.
The project, called Park 33, got the green light from Garden City’s Design Review Committee in October 2019, but it hit a major snag a month later when neighboring property owner Louis Landry appealed the project to City Council. There, council members turned down the project due to concerns with how it fit in with their vision for the area. Jones filed in court for judicial review of the decision in February 2020, hoping to change the outcome.
Two years later, Judge Jonathan Medema in Idaho’s Fourth District Court resoundingly sided against Garden City and overturned the denial of Jones’ shipping container park. He found Garden City City Council’s decision to turn down the project for dimensional standards in the Live Work Create District, concerns over parking or failed to adhere to standards protecting the general health and welfare of the community “was not supported by substantial evidence in the record.”
Project moving ahead, but at a higher cost
Jones told BoiseDev his company is happy to see their success in court, but the prolonged court battle cost his company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, lawyers fees and the delay has increased construction costs. He said because of Garden City’s actions, these extra costs will now be passed on to the small business owners who will be renting space in his project.
“We believe the judge’s ruling expresses what we knew all along,” Jones wrote in an email. “Garden City acted arbitrarily and without cause in denying this project in 2019. We are also pleased that the Judge identified a number of deficiencies in Garden City’s process and code, and look forward to seeing the City address these issues so that other property owners are not deprived of the rightful use of their property.”
Since he filed for judicial review, Jones has since gotten approval from Garden City to build his project with a third story, doubling the residential space available. But, now that he won his court case to build his project as originally proposed, he said it leaves his team with a tough choice. Jones said he will be reviewing the design for the first iteration of the project and the newly approved one to decide how to proceed and hasn’t ruled out either option.
The opinion siding with Jones identified multiple insufficiencies with Garden City’s denial of the shipping container park, including problems with how the rules of the Live Work Create District were interpreted, and parking requirements “so vague as to be unintelligible.”
Charlie Wadams, Garden City’s attorney, told BoiseDev the city will not be appealing the project to the Idaho Supreme Court and the project will be allowed to move forward, either in this proposed form or in another modified version City Council approved after the initial denial.
“The City is looking forward to a successful project,” Wadams wrote in an email to BoiseDev.
A years-long beef
This is not Jones’ first rodeo with Garden City.
He first moved to Garden City in 2018 and eventually started making plans to build his shipping container park around the time the metal boxes started popping up around the city as popular building materials for restaurants and bars to operate out of at the end of 2019. City Council opted to ban the containers from Garden City in February, according to the Idaho Statesman.
But, he had two containers on his property in place before the ban took place that were grandfathered in. Landry, the same nearby neighbor who appealed Jones’ shipping container park to city council, filed a complaint about the shipping containers in early 2020. Jones wasn’t cited for the shipping containers, but he did get a ticket for violating an older city rule requiring a privacy fence around vehicles, dumpsters, and storage units, the Statesman reported.