Boise prepares Downtown zoning for West End corridor

sberg@idahostatesman.comApril 28, 2014 

LINDSIE BERGEVIN — lbergevin@idahostatesman.com

— City of Boise planners wanted to avoid big-box retail shops and malls in the commercial corridor between the Connector, Main Street, 23rd Street and the Boise River.

Last week, the City Council took a step in that direction when it held the first of three readings of a new law that would apply Downtown Boise's C-5 zone to the West End corridor. Planning Director Hal Simmons said the people who own property in that area are in favor of the change.

The C-5 classification allows more density - by means of a higher ratio of usable square footage to land taken up - for new buildings and wouldn't require any setbacks. Additionally, a new parking overlay would require a new development to include only half the parking spaces that a standard commercial development would need, Simmons said.

But there are some new restrictions that come with the new zone. For example, the C-5 zone doesn't allow gas stations, car sales lots, car washes, auto repair shops and some types of strip malls, Simmons said.

It does allow a variety of residential, retail and office uses.

The proposed  zoning law is the latest  in a series of efforts the city has undertaken to revitalize the west-of-Downtown area known as the West End.

Working with the city, Ada County Highway District, which manages streets in the county, built Whitewater Park Boulevard to connect State Street and Fairview Avenue just west of  30th Street. The goal of the new road is to divert traffic from 27th Street and provide an entrance to Boise River Park and the future Esther Simplot Park.

In late 2012, the City Council made the area between 16th Street, the Boise River and Main Street - as well as land on both sides of 27th Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard - an urban renewal district. Capital City Development Corporation, Boise's urban renewal agency, plans street-side improvements in the new district.

Unless an unexpected obstacle comes up, the council should finalize the Main-Fairview western corridor's new zoning designation in the next few weeks. 

Assuming it does, there will still be a gap between 23rd and 13th Streets where the C-5 classification isn't in effect. Simmons said the city wants to extend the zone to those blocks along the Main Street-Fairview Avenue corridor or write a new zoning classification for the area. 

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