Albertson heirs object to condos, say they will harm Kathryn Albertson Park

Two members of a well-known Boise business family say a planned condominium project next to the Boise River would destroy the serenity of Kathryn Albertson Park and violate the integrity of the Boise Greenbelt.

They also say the project would also degrade their views of Downtown Boise and the Foothills from their homes.

Joe Scott and Jamie Scott, the grandson and great-granddaughter of Kathryn Albertson and Albertsons grocery store founder Joe Albertson, have appealed a June decision by the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission approving 304 condos in five buildings on 7.4 acres between Kathryn Albertson Park and the Boise River.

“Kathryn Albertson Park was never intended to be the backyard for a condominium project and visually dominated by a private and oversized condominium project,” wrote Boise attorney Terry Copple, who represents the Scotts.

Joe Scott lives on the north rim of the Boise Bench overlooking the park to the north, on property where his grandparents resided beginning in 1968. The house occupied by Joe and Kathryn Albertson at 800 N. Houston Road was demolished in 2003. Joe Scott built a new house there.

Jamie Scott lives three doors down, at a home that also looks down on the park.

Trapper’s Island edit.JPG
Joe Scott and Jamie Scott claim the Trapper’s Island housing development would diminish their views of Kathryn Albertson Park. The yellow line represents the 81-foot height proposed by developer Jayo Construction. The blue line represents 71 feet and the green line 45 feet. Jayo Construction says the impact to the views would not be that severe. Provided by the City of Boise

The developer, Jayo Construction, originally proposed 84 dwellings, then 104, on the property at 3600 Americana Terrace. That project was proposed more than a decade ago, then derailed by the Great Recession.

The new project, named Trapper’s Island, was unveiled earlier this year. Plans call for two floors of parking topped by four floors of housing.

The proposed condos are just north of Kathryn Albertson Park and west of Ann Morrison Park. The site is framed by the Trestle Bridge on the Boise Greenbelt to the west and by Riverview Rehabilitation on the east.

The Scotts objected to a contention by Jayo Construction before the Planning and Zoning Commission that property tax payments from the development would help pay for most infrastructure improvement projects in the newly formed Shoreline Urban Renewal District.

“The applicant argues that if the project is approved, the city will meet all of the city’s revenue funding goals for the Shoreline Urban Renewal District and presumably the proposed sports stadium infrastructure,” Copple wrote.

Joe Scott objected to the use of tax dollars when a sports stadium was proposed at the site of the former Kmart store on Americana Boulevard, across the river and about a third of a mile northeast of the proposed condos.

Greenstone Properties of Atlanta had looked at building a stadium at that site but abandoned the idea last summer. Greenstone is now attempting to arrange to build the stadium on Whitewater Park Boulevard between Main Street and Fairview Avenue for the stadium.

The Planning and Zoning Commission ordered Jayo Construction to scale back the height of the condos from 81 feet to 63 feet, but the Scotts said even that height would obscure their views. They’re asking the Boise City Council to limit the height to 45 feet, the limit for that zone without an exception.

Jayo disputes the impact the development would have on the views from above. Jayo also appealed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision, saying the commission undermined the city’s planning goals and “the commission’s stated desire for good, dense housing development at this location.”

The height limit, Boise attorney JoAnn Butler wrote, would require the removal of an entire floor from each building.

“This the commission cannot do,” Butler wrote. “Decisions of the commission must be based on ‘applicable standards and criteria of (the Boise zoning ordinance) and the Boise city comprehensive plan.’”

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Trapper’s Island condominium project looking south from the Boise River. DG Group Architecture via the city of Boise

The Downtown Boise Neighborhood Association, which takes in the Trapper’s Island area, supports the condos, President Tim Flaherty said.

The association supports adding density to housing projects Downtown, he said. Having the condominiums and a coffee shop, cafe and bike repair shop would open up that part of the Greenbelt and make it more inviting, he said.

“This is one of those times where we feel they couldn’t have planned it out any better,” Flaherty said in a telephone interview. “It’s going to take what is essentially a vacant dirt lot and turn it into something amazing for our residents.”

The park site itself was once targeted for a tall building.

In the 1960s, several groups of Scottish Rite Masons bought the property that later became Kathryn Albertson Park and proposed a temple west of Ann Morrison Park. According to Copple, the Masons planned in the 1970s to build “a very tall temple in excess of 44 feet.” That caused an outcry that led to the Masons agreeing to limit the height to 44 feet.

Before anything was built, Joe Albertson bought the 41-acre property and donated it to the city for a park, which was named for his wife. The park was dedicated in October 1989. first reported on the appeals. The City Council will hear the appeal at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at City Hall,150 N. Capitol Blvd.

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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.