So far, theres no precise plan for what the 80-year-old building will become, J&M Land manager Mike McCollum said. Nor is there a firm time frame for getting started on rehabbing the building.
But after nearly three decades of watching the Armory stand empty, no ones complaining about the lack of specifics.
Its definitely a relief in that its a fresh start for the building and, hopefully, a transformation of a lifeless property, said Boise director of economic development John Brunelle, who called the transfer of the armorys ownership to J&M the most complicated sale Ive ever been a part of.
In addition to cash, the city got land near other developable city-owned industrial land in Southeast Boise.
After chiming in the past few years with concerns about J&Ms plans to renovate the building, the East End Neighborhood Associations Armory Committee has given the project its blessing as well.
The committee members arent 100 percent sold on every detail in J&Ms proposals for updating the building, Chairwoman Laura Shealy said. In particular, they think the brick facade J&M foresees will detract from the armory. They wish the developers would leave the existing concrete exterior exposed, Shealy said.
That, to her way of thinking, would preserve the building as a marker of historic architecture and a reflection of the Depression-era culture that spawned it.
But theres wishing and theres reality, and Shealy appreciates the fact that J&M Land, not the East End Neighborhood Association, has to find people and businesses wholl pay money to become tenants in the armory.
I was concerned that if we stood our ground on that, it would really discourage the developer, she said. Its a calculated compromise, frankly.
Built in 1931, the armory was a New Deal-era project for the National Guard, which occupied the building until the mid-1970s. Since then, it has belonged to the state of Idaho and then the city of Boise, which bought it in 1993. Though at least one tenant signed a lease to occupy the building, it has been empty since the 1980s.
In the end, Shealy said, everyones glad the armory will be saved from demolition.
Another concern for the neighborhood association is the armorys ultimate use. Late last month, the Boise City Council signed off on a rezone of the armory property. The new zoning designation allows for commercial applications. Permitted uses include office space, a neighborhood center, a brewpub, bakery, bookstore, or even a church.
Whatever the ultimate mix of uses ends up being, Shealy said, the neighborhood association wants to make sure traffic and noise dont become a problem in the area.
The new zoning designation prohibits uses such as car lots, service stations, firing ranges, mortuaries and, yes, bikini bars.
Sven Berg: 377-6275