Words & Deeds

‘We urge you to deny’: Boise neighborhood associations fight new Starbucks drive-thru

The Starbucks at 1797 W. State St. opened in 2008.
The Starbucks at 1797 W. State St. opened in 2008. Statesman file

Two Boise neighborhood associations have a message for Starbucks, which wants to open a new drive-thru coffee shop on State Street: Keep drivin’.

In a letter to the city, the North End Neighborhood Association and West Downtown Neighborhood Association urged the Boise City Planning and Zoning Commission to deny a conditional-use permit for the proposed drive-thru. The project at 1806 W. State St. would include demolishing North End Chinese Restaurant and an adjacent building, which used to house A.E. Hudsons antiques shop.

The letter does not oppose a new Starbucks in the neighborhood — just a new drive-thru.

“We acknowledge that a coffee shop is a permitted use in this location,” the neighborhood associations wrote. “What we object to is the drive-thru, which perpetuates auto-oriented traffic patterns as the city is trying to shift away from those. For that reason, while the drive-thru may be consistent with past zoning decisions, it is not consistent with the new policies of the city and the future uses of the general neighborhood.”

“We fully recognize that there is an existing drive-thru at this location,” the letter says in reference to North End Chinese Restaurant’s drive-thru window. “However, just because past generations made bad planning decisions doesn’t mean we have to continue making the same bad choices. Here is where the auto-oriented uses along this stretch of the State Street corridor should end.”

If the new Starbucks and drive-thru are approved, it seems likely that the Starbucks across the intersection at 1797 W. State St. — which does not have a drive-thru — would be shuttered. I have not confirmed this plan. On Nov. 30, I emailed Starbucks’ media department and ALC Architecture of Eagle, Idaho. Aside from receiving an automated reply from Starbucks, I didn’t hear back from either of them.

If the project moves forward, North End Chinese Restaurant owner Jin Zheng would probably reopen his business at a new location, he told me. Either way, Zheng said, North End Chinese will operate at its current site at least for several more months.

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