The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is planning to demolish its South Walnut Street headquarters and replace it with a multistory building at the same location.
The proposed $19 million building will be shaped like an “L,” with the smaller section three stories high and the longer section two stories, according to preliminary plans.
“Our plan is to build a building that fits the neighborhood, that fits the character of the neighborhood,” Scott Reinecker, the agency’s deputy director, said during a telephone interview. “We’ve been here since 1965 and Fish and Game is part of the East End’s identity.”
Financing is being arranged through the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation, which provides resources to the agency and other nonprofits to benefit wildlife. As a nonprofit, the foundation is able to issue tax-exempt bonds to pay for construction.
Fish and Game would then lease the building for $1.2 million per year, and after the bonds are paid off in about 30 years, the agency would take ownership of the building, said Michael Pearson, the chief of Fish and Game’s Bureau of Administration.
The building, which is targeted to be completed by the end of 2021, would have about 72,000 square feet, double the size of the current building. That’s enough room for the 170 employees who work at the headquarters building and another 100 who work at the St. Luke’s Plaza, formerly the Washington Group Plaza, at 701 Morrison Knudsen Plaza Drive.
“It hasn’t been really efficient or effective having those employees in the other building,” Reinecker said. “We would like to bring our family back and all work under one roof.”
The building, located south of Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park, also will include meeting rooms and classrooms.
Fish and Game submitted an application to the city of Boise on Tuesday for a conditional use permit. A hearing before the Boise City Planning and Zoning Commission has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, at Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.
The MK Nature Center, which sits behind the existing building at 600 S. Walnut St., and is located next to the Boise River Greenbelt, will remain. Reinecker said it will remain open to the public during construction, which is estimated to begin in September 2020.
The large oak trees located in front of Fish and Game’s building also will remain, he said.
Hunting and fishing licenses, which can be obtained at Fish and Game headquarters, will be available at the Nature Center during construction.
During construction, Fish and Game’s employees will work out of the agency’s former Region 3 office on South Powerline Road in Nampa, officials said. Once the new building is completed, the agency will look to sell that Nampa building.