Meridian businessman Josh Evarts has won permission to redevelop two properties on Main Street in Downtown Meridian now occupied by a children’s theater and a meeting and creativity center run by the Meridian Library District.
Evarts and his wife, Lori, submitted a proposal last fall to the Meridian Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal agency, to replace its properties at 703 and 713 N. Main St. The agency said Wednesday that it has approved the Evarts’ plan.
In a news release, the Evartses plan to develop in two phases. In the first, they would replace the building the theater uses at 703 N. Main St. at the corner of Broadway Avenue with a four-story, $1.65 million building that includes retail, commercial and residential space.
The plan calls for 3,800 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Josh Evarts said he is in talks with a local restaurant that could occupy some of that space. The three upper floors would be a mix of office space and residential lofts. The Evartses plan to move into one of the lofts.
In the second phase, the couple would redevelop the adjacent building at 713 N. Main St. That building now houses the Meridian Library District’s UnBound, which offers flexible open space and a meeting nook for business people, a recording studio, an iMac design lab and a 3-D printer cove. The development corporation has not yet seen plans for that site.
Evarts estimates construction of the first building would take a year after the city approves the project, with work starting as soon as this June. Once that building is finished, he plans to wait 14 months — roughly until late 2019 — to break ground on the second building.
The agency rents 703 N. Main property to the Treasure Valley Children’s Theater for $1 per month. The agency said the theater has outgrown the space and is already looking for a bigger building.
“We are excited for the investment Josh wants to make in the future of downtown Meridian,” said Ashley Squyres, executive director of MDC. “The Meridian Development Corp. purchased the two Main Street properties during the recession so we would have the ability to partner with a developer in the future to bring a transformational project into our urban renewal district. This is the type of project we’ve been hoping for. It will give people a new place to grab dinner downtown, help meet the growing demand for office space and bring modern loft living into the city.”
Evarts owns The Vault, an events and art studio in a 111-year-old building at 140 E. Idaho Ave. that sat vacant for several years before he bought it in 2015. Its facade was improved with a grant from the development corporation.
He also owns the Heritage Building, a two-story brick office building at the corner of Main Street and Idaho Avenue.
“By making this investment, we hope others will see the same potential we do in downtown and follow suit,” Evarts said in the release.