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The Cole School site has stood vacant for a decade. Now it may be developed at last

A look at new buildings under construction in Downtown Boise

Builders are putting up new apartments, condominiums, retail and restaurant spaces, hotels and offices in Downtown Boise as the boom stretches deep into 2019. Here's what's going up now, and what's planned.
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Builders are putting up new apartments, condominiums, retail and restaurant spaces, hotels and offices in Downtown Boise as the boom stretches deep into 2019. Here's what's going up now, and what's planned.

For a decade, the site at the old Cole School at the southwest corner of North Fairview Avenue and North Cole Road has sat vacant.

Transients camped on the site. Road construction crews parked trucks and materials on the 5.5-acre lot, causing concerns for neighbors.

Now it appears the site will get developed at last. A Boise company called Cole & Fairview submitted an application to the city of Boise on Tuesday, seeking a zone change to split the parcel into three parts and redevelop it.

Michael Fery, listed as the manager of Cole & Fairview, is the CEO of Rocky Mountain Management and Development of Boise.

Cole & Fairview is buying the 5.5-acre lot, said Ben Semple, a senior landscape architect and partner with Rodney Evans + Partners, in a phone interview. Maverik Inc., which operates convenience stores with gasoline pumps, owns the property, along with two lots totaling 2.4 acres on the east edge of the parcel that are not part of Cole & Fairview’s proposal.

It’s unclear what might end up on the site. The zone change, Semple said, is the first step before looking to attract clients.

“Users and uses haven’t been identified yet,” he said. Under the parcel’s current zoning as open land, “you can’t divide it at all.”

The zone change to commercial would place the property in line with neighboring parcels, including a shopping center across Cole that includes an Albertsons and a Burlington store, and the Westgate Shopping Center across Fairview.

Two of the three parcels would have commercial or retail use, according to the application. The third parcel, on the south side of the property, might be used for a housing development.

Cole & Fairview has proposed a development agreement saying the parcel would not be used for a hotel, RV park, tavern or 21 other uses.

“We had a neighborhood meeting, and they identified some concerns about the use near their single-family residential area,” Semple said. “The developers wanted to make sure it excluded anything that would be in conflict with a single-family residential use.”

The Cole School, built in 1888, was one of the oldest schools in the Boise School District. Maverik bought the property from the Boise School District in 2014 and planned to build a gas station and convenience store on its eastern edge.

Thomas Schofield, a Maverik attorney in Salt Lake City, said during a phone interview that he could not talk about the company’s plans for its 2 acres.

Maverik also had plans for the old Franklin School property at South Orchard Street and Franklin Road. That school, built in 1905, was also razed in 2009. In March, Maverik sold the 4.7-acre site to the city of Boise for $1.9 million.

A spokesman for Mayor David Bieter said in March that the land could be used for a mixed-use development that includes retail, and that it has “great potential for housing.”

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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.
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