Update: What City Council did with ‘small but way cool’ Boise condo project

Artist’s rendering of the condominiums and ground floor commercial space planned for the old Baird’s Dry Cleaners site at 8th and Fort streets in Boise.
Artist’s rendering of the condominiums and ground floor commercial space planned for the old Baird’s Dry Cleaners site at 8th and Fort streets in Boise.

A big new condo building could go up soon on the northern edge of Downtown Boise.

The Boise City Council on Tuesday approved a request from Southers Properties to rezone property at 8th and Fort streets to allow constructon of a four-story building that will include condominiums and ground-floor retail space.

Here’s our original story about the project, published Oct. 11, 2017:

Developer David Southers hopes to receive approval Tuesday from the Boise City Council to build a four-story building with ground-floor retail space and 31 condominiums at the site of the former Baird’s Dry Cleaners in Boise’s North End neighborhood.

Last month, the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission approved a rezone and granted a conditional-use permit for the project on the northeast corner of Fort and 8th streets. Southers would like to begin construction in the first quarter of next year and finish before the end of the year.

“I’m excited about it,” Southers said. “I think it’s going to be a nice building.”

The building would go up across the street from the Boise Co-Op. A Jacksons Food Store is across Fort Street, and St. Joseph Catholic School and St. John’s Cathedral are kitty-corner. The two-story Walker Apartments are north of the Baird’s property.

The condos would range in size from 800 to 850 square feet for one-bedroom units and 1,250 to 1,300 square feet for two-bedroom units. They are aimed at single people or couples, Southers said. The project also includes 3,000 square feet of commercial space.

Residents would have access to a 36-space parking garage in the basement of the building. There would be additional parking next to the building and 23 spaces at an existing parking lot currently used by employees of the Boise Co-Op.

The project is slated for construction four blocks from Southers’ Hyde Park Place, a 40-unit condominium at 1207 W. Fort St. That was built in 2003 and is similar to what he has planned for the new project.

“We build what I call ‘small but way cool.’ They’re loaded,” Southers said. “The kitchens and the master bathrooms have the same stuff as you see in a house costing $450,000 or more.”

The condos could appeal to people who work Downtown or who would like to walk or bike to nearby restaurants and stores, he said.

Michael Stoy, a retired attorney who lives about a block away on Union Street, said Southers does good work. However, Stoy said, the planned development isn’t right for the neighborhood because the building is too high and adds too much density.

The project “moves downtown sprawl into an already overused and burdened area,” he wrote in comments to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Blueprint Boise, the city’s overall planning document, says increased occupancy in the North End should be accomplished primarily through duplexes and townhouses rather than high-density, multifamily units. Stoy says that should apply to Southers’ project.

“I’m expecting it to be approved,” Stoy said in a phone interview. “I would be thrilled and delighted if they just knock it down to maybe three floors.”

Competition for street parking will increase, Stoy said, when Co-Op employees are no longer able to park in the lot that’s part of the Baird’s property.

“You cannot park anywhere in the neighborhood as it is,” Stoy said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell