Boise & Garden City

That on-again, off-again stadium Downtown is on again. Here’s what developer is up to

Stadium developer explains why he thinks model can work in Boise

Chris Schoen, of Atlanta's Greenstone Properties, explains how the lessons and path of mixed-use stadium projects in Fort Wayne, Ind., and North Augusta, S.C., could be templates for a $41 million stadium in Boise.
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Chris Schoen, of Atlanta's Greenstone Properties, explains how the lessons and path of mixed-use stadium projects in Fort Wayne, Ind., and North Augusta, S.C., could be templates for a $41 million stadium in Boise.

After more than a year of negotiating local politics and evaluating alternatives, the managing partner of the Boise Hawks ownership group has returned to his Plan A: proposing a stadium on the southeast corner of Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive in Downtown Boise.

Chris Schoen, also a partner in Atlanta-based developer Greenstone Properties, has scheduled a meeting for people who live near the Shoreline-Americana property. Though the stadium topic has captured conversations around Boise since early 2017, Greenstone has not filed an application to build it. That’s about to change, according to a letter announcing the meeting.

Greenstone “will be submitting an application to the city of Boise...for the development of a mixed-use commercial, retail and residential development, which will include the multipurpose Boise Sports Park,” the letter to neighbors reads.

The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the parking lot of the property of the former Kmart store now owned by St. Luke’s Health System at 688 S. Americana Blvd. Boise law requires neighborhood meetings for most major land-use projects before applications are filed.

The project and the proposal to pay for it stirred controversy. Opponents accused local governments, particularly Mayor David Bieter’s office, of working behind closed doors to seal the deal without public input, and characterized the project as a boondoggle that would make out-of-towners rich and Boise a worse place to live.

Proponents denied any inappropriate negotiations, and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office found no evidence of such conduct.

The controversy appeared to spur a new proposal late last year to build the stadium near the corner of Whitewater Park Boulevard and Main Street in Boise’s West End. Under that proposal, the property at Americana and Boulevard would have gone to the College of Western Idaho for a Downtown campus.

Schoen said in a voicemail Thursday that the West End is still a possible location for his stadium, but for now, he’s focusing on Americana-Shoreline.

“The important thing to remember here is that this request for a rezone is not the approval of the sports park project by (the City) Council,” said Boise Economic Development Director Nic Miller. “This does not mean that it’s a done deal. This does not mean that there are no opportunities for people to weigh in. This is the beginning of the first step of the process.”

The Statesman first reported last February that Schoen wanted to build the stadium at Americana and Shoreline. It would be the new home for the Boise Hawks, the local minor league baseball team that plays in the aging Memorial Stadium in Garden City, and a professional soccer team. It also would host other events, including youth sports tournaments, festivals, concerts and conventions.

Government and private money would cover the stadium’s anticipated $40 million construction cost. Greenstone would donate four acres where the stadium would be located, probably to the city of Boise, and $1 million in cash.

The city would contribute $3 million. The Greater Boise Auditorium District would add $5 million. The Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban renewal agency, would borrow money to pay the rest.

Greenstone would build at least $60 million of private development around the stadium, including office, retail and residential space. Property taxes from that development and lease payments from the Hawks would cover the renewal agency’s loan payments. Boise would own the stadium after that debt is paid off.

Proponents say the stadium could revitalize a ho-hum area, enhancing Downtown and Boise life in general.

Greenstone’s first application will be a request to rezone five parcels totaling 11 acres in the immediate area, said Geoff Wardle, a local attorney who’s representing the developer on the stadium project. If the application is successful, that land would have Boise’s highest-intensity zoning classification, which has no height restrictions.

The City Council must approve all rezoning applications. Greenstone would have to obtain approval of its design before acquiring building permits.

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