Long-awaited new Nampa library takes shape

The block will also host a parking structure, public plaza and private retail and office buildings.

krodine@idahostatesman.comDecember 17, 2013 


    Project name: Library Square

    Number of construction employees: Up to 125

    Construction start date: May 2013

    Construction finish date: February 2015

    Owner: Nampa Development Corp.

    General contractor: Engineered Structures Inc.

    Architect: Babcock Design

    Developer: Gardner Co.

They call it Library Square, the city-owned expanse bordered by four of downtown Nampa’s busiest roadways: 11th and 12th avenues and 2nd and 3rd streets.

Earlier, city leaders called it the Pivot Block, a property they aimed to clear to make room for private investment they hoped would spark an influx of new downtown projects.

Urban-renewal funds were spent to raze the old buildings, including Nampa’s longtime police station and a former Wells Fargo Bank that had been converted to city offices. Urban-renewal money also was spent to build a big new public safety building a few blocks away. That made the razing possible. The urban renewal district, Nampa Development Corp., settled on a block plan that combined private development with the public library the city has sought for more than a decade.

The development corporation expects to spend about $18 million on improvements to the block — $11.6 million for a nearly 64,000-square-foot furnished library, $5.5 million for a four-level parking garage and $1 million for a public plaza with a water feature.

Along 2nd Street South, developer Gardner Co. plans two private buildings — one for retail and one for offices. Construction has not yet begun, and no tenants have been announced.

The public projects are progressing quickly, says owner’s representative Ken Fisher, who is monitoring the construction for the Nampa Development Corp. A topping-off ceremony was held Dec. 11 in which construction crews placed the building's final structural beam.

The library is on the block’s southeast corner, where the police station was. Structural steel columns now extend all three stories high, with plastic sheeting stretched between them to keep out the cold.

Next door, at the former bank site, a ramp is beginning to rise and the first concrete has been poured for the city parking structure. It will hold more than 300 cars.

Contaminated soil, reminders of long-gone gas stations, slowed the construction by a couple of months, Fisher said, but otherwise things have been going smoothly.

The bitter chill of December’s first two weeks was abated by the plastic sheeting, though harsh winds have begun to tear at the seams. A small boiler near the parking-garage site heats a glycol solution that runs through rubber hose laid on the ground and the concrete. The hoses warm the ground in preparation for concrete, then keep the concrete warm enough to set correctly in cold weather.

“These are life-savers,” says Dave Perkins, project superintendent for Engineered Systems Inc., general contractor for Library Square. “We didn’t have anything like this years ago.”

What makes the project distinctive, he says, is a sense of community support.

“Before we started, we went around to all the businesses [surrounding the site] and handed out our cards,” Perkins says. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“They thought it was going to build their business up,” he says. “Several businesses give our workers discounts on lunch.”

The library building’s construction is “beefier and stronger than most buildings,” he says. “Libraries have to be, with the book-load and all that.”

Fisher says he particularly likes the library’s third-floor outdoor patio, two-story entryway and creative floor plan, which will offer “a lot of unique spaces for the different types of people that use the library.”

Planned features include greatly expanded children’s spaces, a local history room and a multipurpose room, available for community use, with seating for 150.

The new structure will have nearly three times the space of the city’s existing library, which straddles two buildings — formerly a bank and print shop — for 24,000 square feet at the corner of 1st Street and 11th Avenue South.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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