Downtown Boise developer Gardner Co. and Boise’s urban renewal agency need more time to work out the specifics of a parking garage Gardner plans to include as part of its two-hotel project on Parcel B — the five-acre lot between 11th, 13th, Myrtle and Front streets.
At the request of Geoff Wardle, Gardner’s vice president of development, the Greater Boise Auditorium District’s board of directors voted Thursday to grant Gardner another month to finalize those details. The new deadline is Feb. 1.
The auditorium district bought Parcel B from the J.R. Simplot Co. in 2000. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement to sell Gardner the property for $8 million. Gardner hopes to start construction next year on a project that, besides a parking garage, would include a 170-room, convention-style hotel on the southwest corner of Front and 11th streets, and a less-fancy 140-room hotel on the northwest corner of 11th and Myrtle.
Wardle told the district’s board Thursday that Gardner’s people have been meeting with urban renewal agency staff a couple of times a week for the past month or so. They’re trying to work out exactly what size and shape the garage should be and how much the agency should chip in to pay for it.
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The renewal agency operates public parking garages throughout Downtown. If the agency does help pay for the garage, it would include some public parking space in addition to space reserved for Gardner’s hotels and other customers, Capital City Development Corp. executive director John Brunelle said. In essence, the agency would be buying public parking space in the garage.
How much? It’s too soon to tell, Brunelle said. The agency is likely to spend somewhere between $6 million and $12 million on the entire project, Brunelle said, but that includes streetscape improvements and utility line relocation in addition to the parking garage.
Gardner’s original plan was for a concrete, eight-story garage with 900 parking spaces. It was expected to cost about $25 million — a little too rich for the renewal agency’s blood, Wardle said. So the agency asked Gardner and its design team to find ways to cut costs, especially through minimizing the per-parking-space cost.
Also, Wardle said, the agency wants a total of 900 new covered parking spaces Downtown, but it doesn’t want them all in the same place.
The new working plan calls for a three-story steel structure with space for 500 parked cars. It proposes a footprint that’s 62 feet wider than the original, Wardle said. Those details could change between now and Feb. 1, he said.
The new plan would save money a couple of ways. First, the steel construction is cheaper than the concrete version. Second, because it’s three stories, it avoids requirements for fire-suppression sprinklers and fire-proofing materials. The theory is that, if a fire starts, people can get out of a three-story structure more quickly than one with four floors or more.
The three-story garage would cost somewhere between $9 million and $10 million to build, Wardle said.
Also, Gardner has scrapped plans to put condominiums on top of the garage. Even without building the condos themselves, Wardle said, building the garage to specifications needed to accommodate them would have added another $2.5 million to the project’s cost.