Sun Valley developer Chris Stephens is free to pursue The District at ParkCenter, a 287-unit complex he plans to build between ParkCenter Boulevard and Loggers Creek in Southeast Boise.
A state judge ruled last week that the Boise City Council acted fairly in July when it overturned a Planning and Zoning denial of the project. That leaves design review as Stephens' only hurdle before applying for a building permit, said Sarah Schafer, Boise's design review manager.
"Bad stuff," said Nancy Caspersen, who lives on Parkway Drive a few hundred feet southwest of the lot where Stephens plans to build the apartments. "I'm incredibly disappointed because I think it's a wrong development in so many ways."
If he uses conventional financing, Stephens said, he could break ground on the project this fall. Another option is to finance the project through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program aimed at low-income, dormitory-style apartment complexes. If he chooses that route, Stephens said, groundbreaking would probably happen mid-2014. He predicted a 15-month construction period.
In September, the Friends of Loggers Creek Preservation, made up of neighbors of Stephens' project, including former Boise State football coach Dan Hawkins, sought to have the council's decision overturned in court.
They said the project, if it goes forward, will damage habitat along Loggers Creek that deer, owls and other wild animals use.
They also said the apartment complex will present too abrupt of a transition between their neighborhood - mostly single-family homes - and ParkCenter Boulevard's commercial corridor.
"From my backyard I will be able to see something I don't want to see," Caspersen said.
The group's concerns also include the complex's impact on traffic flow and the purity of Loggers Creek, a small waterway that cuts between the neighborhood on the west and the property in question on the east.
City Council members applied a broader standard of compatibility than the neighbors believed appropriate.
Instead of looking only at neighboring properties, they took into account the character of the larger surrounding area, including office space, a hotel, restaurants, banks and apartment complexes.
"Looking to the effect that other multifamily projects have had on the surrounding neighborhoods was a reasonable way for the council to address the petitioners' concerns that the project would not be compatible with the neighborhood here," Judge Ronald Wilper wrote in his decision.
Stephens, who shelved the project pending the outcome of the court case, said he now plans "to go ahead with it straight away."
Friends of Loggers Creek Preservation members are discussing options for further resistance to the project, co-chair Lenise Redding said.
Sven Berg: 377-6275