A year ago, Boise developer David Hale planned on building townhouses priced at more than $400,000 on Idaho Street between 16th and 17th streets, sharing a block with the Cabana Inn.
The project stalled when Hale, who developed The Linen Building, The Modern Hotel and more pieces of the nearby, six-block Linen District in 2005, struggled to presell the homes.
So Hale said he scaled down the homes, settling on 1,500-square-foot townhouses with two bedrooms and bathrooms starting at $329,900. He broke ground this week on a nine-townhouse building and plans to build a second six-townhouse building on the site.
“I was originally going after a modern, industrial warehouse type product that you see in larger cities,” Hale said. “It’s a product we don’t have in Boise yet. Boise wasn’t ready for it.”
Townhouses are similar to condos in that multiple properties share a single building. Condo owners own only their living spaces. Townhouse owners also own the ground under the homes and yard spaces.
Hale remains bullish on building the first Downtown townhouses. Each two-story townhouse floor plan can be altered to add a third bedroom and bathroom.. Each includes a detached, one-vehicle garage and an additional off-street parking spot.
The site is in the North Boise area of the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service, where the median price for a single-family home was $353,200 in September.
Hale said he is building the townhouses to provide affordable alternatives to Downtown condos that are either new or under construction, most of which are priced higher.
“I’ve been building townhomes here in Boise for the last 20 years,” Hale said. “I don’t see any risk in it. Compared to a condo, a buyer can own their dirt, and the opportunity to offer a garage in Downtown is huge.”
Mike Turner, owner of Front Street Brokers, said that Hale faces a challenge by building a new product type in an area transitioning from residential to Downtown.
“Demand for Downtown housing may be higher than it’s ever been,” Turner said. “I believe he will sell out all his units. Developers who are willing to adapt and build a product that is in demand should do well in the coming years.”
Hale said he hopes that the first nine townhouses will increase interest for higher-priced units he had originally planned and that he still seeks for the six-unit building.
The original design had similar floor plans but had higher ceilings, security cameras, automated lights and other electronics, and costlier materials for outdoor patios and privacy walls.
Hale plans to complete the nine-townhouse building in six to eight months and to break ground on the six-unit building next spring.