Michael Jobes knows his role in 2 North Homes, the development company he and girlfriend Jeanette Newbold run.
“I’m the dreamer, and she’s the gunslinger,” Jobes said. “She shoots holes in stuff.”
“He has to convince me that we can make money doing it,” she said. “Michael is extremely creative. And he has beautiful dreams. And his dreams have got us here.”
Make no mistake though, Jobes said. It’s Newbold who puts together the details.
After building homes together for several years, Jobes and Newbold are taking on a more ambitious project. They want to remake the lots south of Stewart Street between 27th and 28th streets in Boise’s West End.
Their plan, as it stands now, calls for a handful of townhomes and a four-story building with about 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 23 apartments or condominiums on the upper three floors.
They hope to break ground on the townhomes by summer.
POTENTIAL AND REALITY
The latest 2 North Homes project, called The Corner at Whitewater, is rooted in the Jobes-Newbold dynamic.
In 2013, Jobes said, when the couple lived on the Bench, he was riding his bike down the Boise River Greenbelt and detoured into what is now known as the West End — roughly, the area west of Americana Boulevard and 16th Street, south of Idaho Street, north of the I-184 Connector and east of Quinn’s Pond.
Whitewater Park Boulevard, which has become a major corridor between State Street and Fairview Avenue, was little more than a line on a planner’s map then. Esther Simplot Park was only a rough idea. Improvements to Quinn’s Pond were years away.
Jobes saw potential. Newbold saw a neighborhood that had decayed since the construction of the Connector. A veteran real estate agent, she saw the West End as “always the absolute wrong side of the tracks.”
“It was the low-rent district,” Newbold said.
The couple moved into the West End and got to work on a few residential projects. So far, they’ve built 20 homes in the area, they said.
The West End feels different today than when Jobes rode his bike through it four years ago. With spectacular parks and property values on the rise, the area has a next-big-thing vibe.
“It’s actually up-and-coming,” Newbold said.
A NEW BLOCK
The four-story commercial-residential building would stand where Jerry’s has been for decades. The store closed last year. Newbold and Jobes said its owners, Jerry and Hiral Fandel, told them the business hadn’t been very successful in recent years and they were ready to let it go.
Living about 300 paces from Jerry’s over the last several years, it’s just been kind of this place where you go and get beer or lotto tickets or ... milk. But it hasn’t been the Jerry’s Market that I remember from my childhood.
West End resident Erin Sorensen
The five townhomes would take the place of the Islamic Center. The center plans to relocate to a larger mosque on Christine Street near Hillview Methodist Church.
It’s a bittersweet time for Erin Sorensen, who said she’s lived in three different houses in the West End over the past 10 years. On one hand, Sorensen is sad to see Jerry’s and the Islamic Center go away.
“It’s been very convenient for a lot of our neighbors to be able to walk to their place of worship,” she said. “I hope wherever they choose to move next also has that benefit for the folks who live around it.”
On the other hand, Sorensen thinks the 2 North Homes project could set the tone for future development in her neighborhood. She sees a benefit in Newbold’s and Jobes’ plan to make their townhomes more upscale than a lot of housing that’s in the neighborhood now.
“It certainly sets a precedent for the price range of homes that will be built and remodeled and sold in the neighborhood,” she said. “So I think that is pretty significant to that portion of our urban core, where it’s traditionally been pretty affordable to live.”
Few people have had more to do with planning the West End than Elaine Clegg.
Years before Whitewater Park Boulevard was built and wave shapers lured surfers and other river junkies to the area, Clegg, who’s now president of the Boise City Council, was a major force in an effort to write a master plan that envisioned revitalization of the area.
Clegg also helped create a new urban renewal district that includes much of the West End, with the goal of providing money to spur redevelopment.
The master plan envisioned a small commercial district on the corner of 27th and Stewart streets. For years, drivers used 27th, which used to have four lanes, as a connection between State Street and Fairview. Whitewater Park Boulevard, which Ada County Highway District completed in 2013, absorbed much of that traffic.
That was intentional on the part of city planners and the highway district. They believed 27th Street would function better as a neighborhood street that attracts pedestrians, bicyclists and low-speed car traffic.
On the one hand, if you put in more affordable housing, does that hurt the neighborhood? ... On the other hand, if you put in more pricey housing, does that begin the move toward gentrification? So it’s a balancing act.
Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg on redevelopment of the West End
Clegg said the 2 North Homes project represents the mix of commercial and residential uses planners had in mind when they wrote the area’s master plan.
“The scale is a little bit larger than we originally talked about, but I think it’s still within the realm of what we thought was possible in that region, in that particular area,” she said.
Clegg recognizes that putting a bunch of upscale homes in the neighborhood could cause gentrification, driving out lower-income tenants in a market that’s short on affordable housing. Still, she thinks high-end housing than nothing is better than nothing.
“If there’s one lesson to be learned, at least from everything I’ve read about all of that, it’s that the more housing you build of whatever kind...the less likely you’re going to have the really bad effects of gentrification,” she said.
Jay Story is happy 2 North Homes is planning a major project in the West End, but he’s not counting chickens yet.
Story is paid by the city of Boise and its urban renewal agency, Capital City Development Corporation, to help projects take root in the West End. Over the past couple years, he’s taken a lot of phone calls and heard a lot of talk about projects in his area.
But physical work has been less common.
“We really need some of these projects to kind of get to the next phase, you know?” Story said. “I’m hoping that we see a lot more information and maybe some ground-breaking in 2017 from at least one of these projects.”
Other West End projects that are in the planning — or at least talking — phase include an apartment-retail development on the southeast corner of Whitewater and Main; a condominium or apartment project in the area of 24th Street and Fairview; a brewery on the corner of 28th and Idaho streets that hasn’t opened yet; and a couple projects whose leaders aren’t ready to announce their plans yet.
“Until you see a shovel in the ground, you just never know,” Story said.
Resistance to Newbold’s and Jobes’ project has been relatively sparse.
Some neighbors don’t like the size and height of the mixed-use building and worry about how it will affect parking and traffic in the immediate surroundings. Though some people opposed the project at a November Planning and Zoning hearing, no one appealed the project, and no one spoke against it at a City Council hearing in early January.
Newbold and Jobes say they want their project to do right by the neighborhood. Jobes said he thinks the 27th Street corridor could someday take on a character like that of Hyde Park, a popular commercial district in Boise’s North End neighborhood, or Bown Crossing, another mixed-use district in Southeast Boise.
“I just feel fortunate that we had the opportunity to get almost a whole block,” Jobes said. “It gave us enough of a palette that we could create atmosphere.”
Jerry’s Market space through history
Jeanette Newbold and Michael Jobes say they want to preserve the memory of the West End’s Jerry’s 27th Street Market when they put a mixed-use project in its place.
Newbold and Jobes think some type of business may have been in operation on the Stewart-27th corner since the Great Depression. They’re asking people to send them pictures of the building throughout its history, so that they can incorporate them as a kind of homage to the store.
If you’re interested in helping, email Jobes and Newbold at firstname.lastname@example.org.