These 125 apartments are proposed near BSU. The neighbors have a problem with them.

A proposed apartment complex in Southeast Boise hit a wall as neighbors said the four-story building would overwhelm homes and townhouses across the street.

Storage Development wants to build a triangular-shaped complex at 1250 S. Division Ave., the site of the former Park Center Health and Racquet club. The existing building would be torn down to make way for the apartments.

Developer Greg Ferney seeks a conditional-use permit to build 125 apartments and 5,500 square feet of office space on the 3-acre site southeast of the Boise State University campus. He also seeks an exemption to allow the building to exceed a 45-foot height limit by nearly 8 feet.

Neighbors who appeared at a Sept. 9 hearing before the city Planning and Zoning Commission said they had concerns about increased traffic but didn’t oppose the project. However, they said four stories were incompatible with the one- and two-story homes and townhouses to the west across Division.

“The new complex would mean they’d have a four-story wall across the street, more than doubling the height and looming over them,” Erik Berg, president of the Southeast Boise Neighborhood Association, told commissioners.

Site of proposed apartments at Rossi and Division streets - Google Earth widescreen crop.jpg
Storage Development is seeking to build a four-story apartment complex at South Division Avenue and West Beacon Street, at the site of the sand-colored building in the center of this image. Neighbors said the building would overwhelm one- and two-story homes and townhouses across Division, the street going left to right at the top of the photo. Beacon Street is at the right and connects to Division and West Parkcenter Boulevard, right. Google Earth

Berg offered a solution he said could allow the complex to be built while addressing neighbors’ concerns. He asked the commission to limit the building facing Division to two stories, while allowing for a taller structure on the back side of the development.

“I think this is an incredible example of a way to make the project better,” Berg said.

Commissioner Milt Gillespie agreed.

“I like everything about the project except the impact on the neighbors across Division,” he said. “I would be willing to trade off a taller building along Loggers Creek for a shorter building along Division.”

The commission put off making a decision and asked Storage Development to return Oct. 14 with an updated plan.

Ferney said Tuesday that he is working with his architects to redesign the building so the Division Avenue side is only two stories while still allowing 125 units in the entire building.

“I liked the design we had, but we want to be good neighbors,” Ferney said by phone. “If that’s something that endears us to the neighbors who live across the street, and they prefer a different design, again, we want to be good neighbors.”

Loggers Creek, a tributary of the Boise River, separates the property from the six-story Holiday Inn Express at 475 W. Parkcenter Blvd. The hotel, built in 1985, also obtained a height exemption. It is surrounded by other businesses.

Division Street apts.2.JPG
A drawing of the apartments proposed on Division Avenue shows how the building would look on Division, right, and on Rossi Street, left. The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission asked Greg Ferney and his Storage Development company to consider lowering the Division Street building from four stories to two to better fit in with the neighborhood of one- and two-story homes and townhouses. Provided by the city of Boise

Under Storage Development’s application, the complex would have a ground-floor parking garage and office space, and three floors of apartments. Plans called for 52 one-bedroom, 56 two-bedroom and 17 three-bedroom units.

A center courtyard would be located on the second floor, on the roof of the parking garage. It would feature grass, trees, walking paths, benches and picnic areas.

Ferney originally considered locating a Crunch Fitness gym in the existing building or using the site for a multistory self-storage business, but he later abandoned those ideas. He told the Idaho Statesman earlier this summer that because of the site’s proximity to BSU and Downtown Boise, housing seemed a better use of the property.

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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.