With memories of ‘Boise Hole’ still fresh, CCDC moving forward with Downtown condo projectSeptember 24, 2014
With a new condo project, agency aims to avoid a repeat of ‘Boise Hole’ mess, where it found itself with no leverage.
The lessons of the Boise Tower experience are written into Capital City Development Corporation’s proposed agreement for a condominium project near the Boise Library.
The urban renewal agency’s board of commissioners hasn’t finalized the agreement, but several staff recommendations appear to have traction and probably will be in the final version.
First, the urban renewal agency would not sell the lot between 8th, 9th, River and Fulton streets until developer RMH demonstrates that it has money or financial backing to buy the land and finish the project.
Second, the agency anticipates splitting the lot into two pieces corresponding to the project’s phases. RMH would pay $765,000 for the east half – roughly divided by an alley between 8th and 9th streets. When that phase is finished, CCDC would refund the $765,000.
RMH would buy the second piece of the lot for $935,000. Again, CCDC would refund the money once the project is complete. So if RMH meets all of its obligations, it would get the land for free.
The idea, as CCDC commissioner David Eberle said, is to offer RMH a carrot and a stick at the same time. If the developer doesn’t meet the requirements, the agency would have authority to keep the money, which represents the land’s full market value.
But CCDC’s mission isn’t to sell land. It wants to spur activity in an area that many view as ripe for development but in need of a spark. If RMH failed to meet benchmarks, executive director John Brunelle said, the renewal agency probably would try to work out a solution or reacquire the land.
“We all want a project there,” Brunelle said. “It’s more important, probably, to catalyze the area than to sell the property for cash.”
Founded in 1989, Boise-based developer RMH has taken on several major Idaho projects, including Alpine Village, a residential and commercial complex in McCall. The condominium project on CCDC’s land would expand its footprint between Downtown and the Boise River, which includes most of the private land between the river and 9th, 13th and River streets.
Today, a warehouse stands at the northeast corner of 9th and River streets, northwest of the Boise Public Library’s main branch and north of a city-owned property leased to Biomark, which makes wildlife-monitoring devices. The warehouse was originally a food-distribution center.
Boise’s renewal agency bought the property in 2001, hoping to promote development along the Capitol Boulevard corridor between Front Street and the Boise River.