Business

Boise city councilman planned to build two towers. He has sold one of the properties.

Scot Ludwig says he still plans to build a pair of Downtown towers on two corners at 5th and Broad streets that would include offices, condominiums and ground-floor retail space.

However, the Boise city councilman’s company, Broad Street Properties, no longer owns one of the parcels, at 406 S. 5th St. The Statesman has learned it was sold in late March to 406 South Fifth Street LLC, a newly formed unit of Los Angeles developer LocalConstruct.

Ludwig, a lawyer and part-time developer, planned a nine-story, 147,500-square-foot building at 406 S. 5th St. A second building, an 11-story, 130,000-square-foot building, would go up between West Broad and Front streets on 5th Street’s east side, across from Concordia University Law School. The two buildings would be linked by a sky bridge.

Ludwig’s company continues to own the second property, at 314 S. 5th. And it retains a three-year option to develop the property sold to LocalConstruct’s company, Ludwig said in a telephone interview. A document filed with Ada County as part of the deed transfer says Broad Street has an exclusive option to repurchase the property.

“In the event that we proceed, that property is still part of the project,” he said. “In the event we decide that it’s not feasible economically, then it’s in the hands of an incredibly quality developer.”

Plans called for office space, along with 54 condominiums on the upper floors of the two buildings. There would be two-story live-work units on the ground floor of the north building and ground-floor retail space along the south side of Broad and the east side of 5th.

Construction costs have risen significantly in the past few months, and Ludwig said he hopes those cost soften before he begins work on the project.

“The numbers don’t look bad, it’s just that it’s really expensive to build right now,” he said.

Ludwig said LocalConstruct, like all good developers, maintains a pipeline of properties and projects. “This is kind of a pipeline purchase for them,” he said.

Another LocalConstruct unit, Salt Box Project, owns the quarter-lot south of the parcel LocalConstruct just bought from Ludwig. If Broad Street was unable to develop its project, Local Construct would have the entire half-block west of the alley between Broad and Myrtle streets.

The parcels are now used as parking lots. They are across 5th Street from The Fowler apartments, which LocalConstruct built and opened last year. LocalConstruct also built the Watercooler Apartments at 1401 W. Idaho St. and, in a partnership with Boise developer Clay Carley, renovated The Owyhee, a historic hotel at 1109 W. Main St., into apartments.

LocalConstruct also has plans to develop a 161-unit apartment building, The Cartee, on the southeast corner of 4th and Broad streets. That project is soliciting bids, but construction could be delayed if the bids are too high, CEO Casey Lynch told the Statesman by email.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen such significant escalation in construction costs in Boise that I’m not sure if the project economics are going to justify building it at this time, and there’s a possibility the project will be put on the shelf,” he said.

Lynch said he has no plans for the 5th and Broad property formerly owned by Ludwig. He said the lot will continue to be used as parking for now.

Ludwig’s project brought controversy. Critics said the buildings didn’t fit the Central Addition neighborhood and that his position on the City Council was a conflict of interest.

A year ago, the council approved the project by a 3-2 vote. Ludwig did not take part in the discussion or the vote and was absent from the meeting where it was decided.

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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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