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Now it’s a Downtown Boise parking lot. Soon it may be a 10-story building with a park

Weeks after work began on a five-story office building in Downtown Boise, a different developer has announced plans for a 10-story building a few blocks away.

On Friday, Rafanelli & Nahas submitted an application for a planning permit to the city of Boise for a $40 million to $45 million high rise on the northwest corner of 11th and Idaho streets. The site is now part of a parking lot, across Bannock Street from the Boise Plaza.

The building is planned for the southeast corner of the block, just east of the El Korah Shrine on Idaho Street and across Idaho from The Record Exchange.

The building is being designed by Perkins+Will. The Seattle architectural firm designed the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, the New York City Police Academy and the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C.

“When you see the pictures, it looks like something you would see out of Chicago or New York City,” said Scott Schoenherr, a partner in Rafanelli & Nahas, a Boise commercial real estate development and management company. “It doesn’t seem like something you see in Boise.”

Six blocks southwest, at 13th and Myrtle streets, work began a few weeks ago on a five-story office building in the Pioneer Crossing development. The $20 million building from the Gardner Co., with 120,000 square feet of space, is about 50 percent leased, said David Wali, an executive vice president with Gardner.

The 10-story building, with the working name 11th and Idaho, would adjoin a planned pocket park. The park would adjoin Bannock Street, stretching from 11th to 12th across from the Boise Plaza, which Rafanelli & Nahas owns. The city plans to build the park with a mist fountain, landscaping and high-end furnishings.

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An artist’s rendering looking southwest along 11th Street at the proposed 10-story office. The city of Boise plans to build the park in front of the building in this view. Bannock Street separates the proposed building and park from the Boise Plaza, right. Provided by Rafanelli & Nahas

Rudolph Investments owns the 1-acre parcel where the park would be located. The company is looking to retain ownership of the land while allowing the city to build the park. Rafanelli & Nahas would give up its 40-year lease on the parking lot.

Schoenherr said other business owners have asked him why his company would give up the money it receives for parking in exchange for a park. Studies have shown that land next to a park is more valuable than land without a park, Schoenherr said.

“We’ll have two major office buildings right on this park, and we think that’s important for our tenants to be able to walk out of their building and have some green space,” he said.

Schoenherr said that part of town needs more open space, and the park could become a gathering spot. City Parks Director Doug Holloway said in December that the park could attract office workers as a place to eat lunch and could support events on weekends.

Plans call for the 11th and Idaho building to have a ground-floor food court that would open onto the park.

Parking for workers with be provided by a 951-space garage the company built in 2009 at the southwest corner of 12th and Jefferson streets. The eight-story garage was built with the needs of the future office building in mind, Schoenherr said.

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This artist’s rendering shows one of the entrances on the north side of the proposed 10-story office building planned for 11th and Idaho streets. Eleventh Street is at left. A reflection in the windows shows the Boise Plaza building across the street to the north. Provided by Rafanelli & Nahas

Last year, the Hyatt Place Hotel opened at 1024 W. Bannock St., kitty-corner from the planned park and 11th and Idaho office building. It also was developed by Rafanelli & Nahas.

The company hopes to begin construction next spring and to have the 181,000-square-foot building completed 14 months later. Timing on the groundbreaking depends upon Rafanelli & Nahas securing enough leases to move forward, Schoenherr said.

“If we got to 30 percent but we were working with five other tenants that we thought were all really interested and it might happen, we’d probably go,” he said. “Yet if we got to 30 percent and basically we’ve talked to everyone, we probably wouldn’t.”

Prices will range in the mid-$20 range per square foot, Schoenherr said. Initial leases will for periods between five and 10 years.

“It’s a great location,” Schoenherr said. “It’s the best location Downtown.”

The Idaho Business Review first reported on the project.

Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.