The city’s urban renewal agency voted to move to the next step in a large-scale plan that would transform the area around the Downtown Boise YMCA.
YMCA land swap & “the hole”
CCDC voted Monday to approve a land swap with the YMCA of the Treasure Valley, the next key step in allowing the Block 68 project to move forward.
YMCA will swap parcels with CCDC, which the agency will then sell to the Block 68 partners to accommodate the project. CCDC project manager Alexandra Monjar called the swap a “small technical detail”. The deal is structured so the swap would happen at the time as the sale to the Block 68 group, which includes Edlen & Co. deChase Miksis.
The exchange is the first in a complex five-step process to make the project happen.
The trade will only go through if the project moves forward to construction. CCDC commissioners expressed concern that if the project didn’t happen, they’d be left with property.”
“After the famous hole, we will not move to title until the project has a firm commitment,” agency attorney Ryan Armbruster said, referring to the failed Boise Tower project with CCDC that left an empty site with rebar and a construction fence for more than a decade at 8th St. and Main St. “The Boise Hole” was later developed into the Zions Bank building.
“We are not going to convey parcels to the Y and they are not going to convey parcels to us until we have a binding agreement to fund and move forward.”
CCDC hopes to approve the final disposition and development agreement in September, Monjar said.
Monjar said the Block 68 group is seeing costs rise, both in construction and with rising interest rates.
“They had assumed a 4.25 percent interest rate, and are now projecting 6.5 percent rate,” Monjar said. “The contractor has recommended (cost) escalations of ten percent or more. Financials are something they are continuing to work on for the workforce housing piece. We still believe both projects continue to be viable but there may be some issues to work through.”
A requirement to build flat deck parking garages was waived by the agency. CCDC had sought the concept so the decks could be reused in the future if parking demand dropped. The idea is a popular one in new urbanism circles, but so far no examples of parking garages being converted to other uses have popped up in the US. A ramped deck garage is harder to convert because the floors are not flat.
“With a ramped deck, you get more stalls at lower a cost,” Monjar said. ”But we studied whether we should ask users to pay a premium for flat deck design. It’s a big burden on workforce housing and the YMCA. Future proofing of the garage becomes unaffordable, so we have authorized moving forward with a ramped deck design.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated changes CCDC was making to its participation program as impacting the Block 68 project. The agency is making changes to other elements of the program that don’t interact with the participation program type being used for Block 68.