Boise & Garden City

Boise to hire Gardner, construction companies to consult on future new main library

The city of Boise hopes to upgrade its main library branch, located west of Capitol Boulevard and just north of the Boise River.
The city of Boise hopes to upgrade its main library branch, located west of Capitol Boulevard and just north of the Boise River.

Gardner Co., one of the Treasure Valley’s most ambitious developers in recent years, is teaming with Jordan-Wilcomb Construction of Boise and Okland Construction of Salt Lake City to help the city of Boise plan a project to replace or renovate its main library branch.

The City Council  approved Tuesday a contract for the consulting team. The contract, as it’s written, would authorize the city to pay Gardner employees Tommy Ahlquist; his father, Tom Ahlquist Sr.; and David Wali, as well as representatives of both construction firms, $150 per hour each, with a total spending cap of $20,000.

The team was one of four that submitted bids for the library consulting contract.

The consulting team’s duties would be to help the city evaluate and develop alternatives for a future main library branch. As work progresses, the city could enter new contracts for future phases, Boise purchasing manager Colin Millar said Monday.

“As the project moves into design and construction phases, this time, ideally, would also help us with construction management and general contractor services to bring those concepts to reality,” the city’s request for bids reads.

Wali and Ben Petzinger of Okland Construction would be the primary points of contact for the city.

For more than 15 years, Boise has been trying to upgrade its main branch, a 1940s-era warehouse converted in 1973 that’s smaller and has fewer materials than libraries in peer cities such as Salt Lake City and Denver. Last year, moments after becoming the longest-serving mayor in city history, Dave Bieter named a new main library branch as a goal for his fourth four-year term.

In 2008, estimates for replacing it ran as high as $119 million — more than the City Council wanted to spend. In 2014, a consultant presented the city a handful of options that ranged from rearranging or renovating the existing building to tearing it down and starting anew. Early cost projects for a rebuilt branch are in the neighborhood of $40 million to $50 million. A fairly recent proposal to include space in a new library building for the city’s Arts and History Department seems to have gained some traction at City Hall.

Gardner has a lot of experience developing major projects. The company recently finished Eighth & Main, the tallest building in Idaho, in Downtown Boise and City Center Plaza, a mixed-use project next to the U.S. Bank Building, which Gardner also owns, on The Grove Plaza.