Library Square will come to life soon in Nampa

The city's new downtown facility will be a three-story, 60,000-square-foot, multiuse development

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comMarch 6, 2013 

Demolition is under way to clear an entire block between 11th and 12th avenues and 2nd and 3rd streets.

In addition to a new city library, the $23 million project includes a three-story parking garage and office and retail space. A public plaza will have a water feature, landscaping, public art and seating.

Construction is scheduled to start in May and the project is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

What is being demolished to make way for the library complex?

Crews are clearing the entire block by removing three old city buildings - central services, which was once a bank; police and fire administration, which was once an Idaho Power office; and the old police department and jail.

The inoperable original City Hall fountain also will be demolished. City crews havesalvaged some of the fountain's material and Nampa is looking at other potential sites for a fountain.

Why does Nampa need a new, larger library?

The city of nearly 83,000 people has outgrown the 23,000-square-foot library that's in a historic building constructed in 1919. The building was never intended for library use, so seating, parking, safety, meeting space, restrooms, disabled accessibility and technology upgrades are significant challenges that would be costly retrofits.

The new library will feature computers, public art and meeting rooms.

Approximately 1,000 people visit the Nampa library every day. That total is expected to double, especially with the addition of space for community events.

What will happen to the old library?

The city will consider redevelopment options but is committed to ensuring that the historic bank building facade remains.

The block is surrounded by heavy traffic. Will it be more pedestrian-friendly?

An on-site parking garage will make it easier for patrons to get to the library. The project includes wide sidewalks and sidewalk "bulbouts."

The city, its urban renewal agency and the Idaho Transportation Department are working on a long-term plan to reroute truck traffic by realigning Idaho 45, which ends at 12th Avenue and 2nd Street. They're also looking at possibly eliminating the Interstate 84 business loop - which runs along 2nd and 3rd streets - to reduce traffic.

To improve downtown pedestrian and bike connections, the city this year will begin construction of a grant-funded pathway connecting both the 18th Avenue path and North Nampa to downtown.

Who is building the project? Who will own Library Square?

The project is a partnership between the city; its urban renewal agency, Nampa Development Corp.; and private developer the Gardner Company, which also is building the Eighth and Main building in Downtown Boise. Gardner built the Saltzer/St. Luke's Medical Plaza in Nampa and the Portico at Meridian.

Under the partnership, the city will operate and maintain the library; the urban renewal agency will operate the parking garage and plaza; and Gardner will own and manage the office and retail space.

The city owned the block until last year, when it exchanged it with the Nampa Development Corp. NDC built the new Hugh Nichols Public Safety Building and swapped the $18.6 million structure for the city's Library Square block.

How is the project being financed? Are tax dollars paying for it?

The Gardner Company is paying for both the private and public construction up front.

The Nampa Development Corp. will reimburse Gardner for the cost of the library, parking garage and plaza, estimated to be $18.1 million. The value of the portion of the block that will be owned by the Gardner Company will be factored into NDC's reimbursement.

The development group will pay Gardner through tax increment financing, meaning that taxes on increased values in the urban renewal district from 2006 to 2030 will finance the project. The Gardner Company will pay for and own the retail and office space.

Will the project generate additional tax revenue?

Gardner's private portion of the development will be charged property taxes, which will go to the Nampa Development Corp. In 2030, when the urban renewal district dissolves, the urban renewal agency-owned library and parking garage will be transferred to the city and the private property will go on the general tax rolls.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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