More than 300 new living units are going up or have just opened in Downtown Boise as developers bet on well-heeled empty-nesters, millennials and other lovers of urban living to buy or rent.
The units are in five projects — two apartment buildings, two condominium buildings and one row of townhouses. They’re mostly smaller than traditional homes and apartments, and they cost more per square foot of space. Many that are move-in ready have sold out or have only a few homes left.
More may be coming. Site preparation has just started on a sixth project, an eight-unit apartment building at Front and 15th streets.
Here’s a look at the five:
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1. The Afton condos
The Afton condominiums at Eighth and River streets, near the Boise Public Library, have sold all but two of 28 units. Sales have gone so well that Boise developer Michael Hormaechea has begun designing a second phase with 35 more.
“Sales certainly surpassed our expectations,” said Julie Oliver, an agent with Keller Williams Realty of Boise.
Buyers have included empty nesters looking to “simplify and downsize” their homes, as well as young professionals and retirees, Oliver said. Some wanted to live close to the Greenbelt. Others wanted easy access to restaurants and sports and entertainment venues.
“There has been so much exciting growth in Boise’s Downtown and so much press on what was happening Downtown,” Oliver said. “I think there was a spotlight on the benefits of living Downtown that helped us.”
Potential buyers could sign up before construction started at no charge. Not all who signed up put down money to buy a unit, but many did. So the Afton is taking reservations for the second phase, too, though a construction schedule has not yet been announced.
The Afton has one-, two- and three-bedroom units at 681, 1,370 and 1,540 square feet, respectively. The unsold units are a one-bedroom unit and a street-level one-bedroom unit with commercial space that brings its size to 1,772 square feet. Oliver declined to disclose prices.
The Afton offers a third-floor outdoor garden, 1,500 square feet of outdoor artificial turf and a covered barbecue deck, all for communal use. There’s also an owner clubhouse with a TV lounge, prep kitchen and dining room; a pet washing and grooming station; and a dog-walking and potty area.
Hormaechea and his investors own the property. When the second phase is completed and all units have been sold, the homeowner association will assume ownership of the common areas.
2. The One Nineteen condos
The 26 units in the One Nineteen condominium project at 10th and Grove sold fast.
“We got our certificate of occupancy from the city on Dec. 1, and we had people backed up, ready to move in that day,” said Bryant Forrester, an agent with Urban Concepts and Keller Williams Realty. “We had over half of them sold at that point, and then the other half sold immediately afterward.”
The condominiums, built by Sawtooth Development Group of Ketchum, have two or three bedrooms and range from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet apiece. One of the last units, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,500 square feet, sold for just under $460,000.
Each unit includes a natural gas outlet on the exterior deck for a barbecue grill. Each floor has trash and recycling chutes. There are locked indoor bicycle racks and a bicycle maintenance station and at street level.
There’s still one unsold condo: a two-bedroom penthouse on the sixth floor with 1,982 square feet, listed for $949,000.
“It’s been fun,” Forrester said. “It’s the right product, the right place, the right time.”
3. Idaho Street Townhomes
For decades, bigger was better when it came to housing space. Homeowners wanted more space, more land, more room. That is less true today, at least for some people, said David Hale, owner of Hale Development, builders of the nine-unit Idaho Street Townhomes.
“Now they want less space,” said Hale, who earlier developed the nearby Linen District. “They want less of a commute. They want to be able to walk or bike to the places they want to go.”
Located at 1687 W. Idaho St., Hale’s townhomes are on the western edge of Downtown in the north half of the block housing the Cabana Inn.
The seven buyers of the first-phase townhouses range from first-time buyers in their 20s and 30s to baby boomers in their 50s and 60s, he said. Some are out-of-state residents who wanted a second home in Boise.
The two units still for sale include two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with the kitchen and master bedroom on the top floor. Each has 1,500 square feet of space and a detached garage. Each is for sale for $359,000.
Owners buy the unit and the land underneath. That differs from condominiums, where the living space is owned by the buyer and the common space is owned by a homeowner association.
Hale said he plans to begin work in a month or two on a six-unit second phase.
“It’s really an ideal urban location,” he said. “You can walk to Albertsons four blocks away. Starbucks is close by, and there’s coffee in the Linen District.”
4. The Fowler apartments
The largest of the five projects has 159 apartments in seven stories, including a parking garage, at 401 S. 5th St., at the corner of Myrtle Street.
When completed in November, The Fowler will offer a rooftop garden, gym, business center and dog-wash station.
LocalConstruct, a Los Angeles-based company with an Idaho office, is building it. LocalConstruct is best known locally for working with Boise developer Clay Carley to renovate the former Owyhee Plaza Hotel in 2013 into the Owyhee, an apartment building.
The company says its apartments are at least 15 percent smaller than most Boise units. The one- and two-bedroom units at the Fowler are 600, 850 and 1,000 square feet each.
A lot of people are willing to sacrifice large living spaces in exchange for amenities and access to public spaces and activities, co-owner Casey Lynch said.
Expected rents were not immediately available.
5. The Watercooler apartments
Another LocalConstruct project, the just-finished, three-story Watercooler apartments at 1401 W. Idaho St. have 39 units: studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
LocalConstruct named the project for the WaterCooler, a home for startup businesses that opened on the site in 2008 and closed several years later. Its building was demolished a year ago to make room for the apartments.
Prices run from $1,115 per month for a studio to $1,850 for a two-bedroom apartment. Units are 494, 642, 766 and 1,064 square feet apiece. Units are now available in each size.
LocalConstruct has announced plans for another big project west of Downtown: a mixture of residential, retail space and parking on an empty lot on the southeast corner at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard.
Coming: Verraso Downtown
Home builder Chad Olsen’s company, Envision 360, is beginning work on Verraso Downtown, eight luxury units at 1420 W. Front St., where an old warehouse was just torn down to make room for it.
The site is near Rhodes Park, just off the Interstate 184 Connector.