Boise & Garden City

Boise’s West End offers “more advantages” for a stadium than Downtown, developer says

An Atlanta developer changed his mind and decided to build a stadium in Boise’s West End because, he says, it offers “more advantages” than the corner of Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, where he originally wanted to build.

So the developer lined up two new buyers for three properties, including the former Kmart on Americana and Shoreline, that he had agreed to buy from St. Luke’s Health System, which has used it for offices for the past decade. Those buyers took ownership of the properties Thursday.

The advantages of the new site, on the south side of Main Street between Whitewater Park Boulevard and 27th Street, include “better access and visibility, with fewer residential buildings and more commercial space in close proximity,” Chris Schoen said in a news release from Greenstone Properties, in which Schoen is a partner.

The new site offers quick access to the I-184 Connector while being almost as close to the Boise River and the Greenbelt as the Americana-Shoreline property. The site is not the former car dealership property now owned by the College of Western Idaho that was for years considered a possible stadium site. It’s southeast of there, on empty lots across Main.

“It’s certainly a better location than the one down on Americana,” said Bill Ilett, former managing partner of Boise’s former Idaho Stampede D-League basketball team and cochair of Concerned Boise Taxpayers, a group formed to oppose Schoen’s stadium plans.

Ilett said Eagle or Meridian would be even better, because they’re closer to the center of the Treasure Valley. He said he would still oppose the stadium if it requires public money, as the original proposal did.

A track record of stadiums near rivers

The stadium would be the new home of the Boise Hawks, a minor-league baseball team that now plays at Memorial Stadium in Garden City, and a minor-league soccer team. It also could be available for youth sports, concerts, festivals and other events.

Schoen has submitted no official requests, but his plan for the stadium would require taxpayer money from the city of Boise and the Greater Boise Auditorium District. The city’s urban renewal agency would borrow money to cover most of its cost and pay that loan off with tax money from private development Schoen builds around the stadium. Boise would own the stadium after the debt is retired.

Last year, Schoen told the Idaho Statesman he had looked at properties in the West End but preferred the Americana location because it’s closer to Downtown’s core. Both sites are within a few blocks of the Boise River. Schoen relied on urban settings close to rivers to anchor stadiums he has built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and North Augusta, South Carolina.

The North Augusta stadium, which opened in April and received praise from the local newspaper, is located next to the Savannah River, the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The Indiana project is five blocks south of the St. Marys River. After facing stiff opposition before construction, it has become a popular destination in the heart of what was once a deteriorating downtown.

What next for St. Luke’s old Kmart?

With St. Luke’s old Kmart no longer considered for a stadium, what will happen to it?

That’s not clear. The buyers aren’t talking, at least not yet.

The former Kmart site was bought by a brand-new company that Greenstone described as an investor group.

Ameri Shore, established Monday, bought more than eight acres where the stadium, as well as retail, office and multifamily residential space, would have been located. Spokane attorney John Munding is listed as a governor and organizer of Ameri Shore. He didn’t return a call Friday.

The smaller parcel, 2.2 acres with an office building at 1471 W. Shoreline Drive (on Shoreline’s south side, across the street from the old Kmart), was bought by RDT Real Estate, whose registered agent is listed in state records as Robert Rebholtz Jr., the president of Agri Beef. Agri Beef’s headquarters are located just west of the property. The family-owned company processes and sells Northwest beef in the U.S. and abroad.

Rebholtz did not return a call either. Schoen had planned to build multifamily housing there.

Urban renewal district plans proceed

Meanwhile, Boise’s urban renewal agency still plans to establish a new district around the Americana-Shoreline area. That process, spurred by Schoen’s stadium plans, could be complete by the end of the year, Executive Director John Brunelle said Friday.

Brunelle said a mixture of residential and commercial space could be a good fit for the properties RDT and Ameri Shore bought this week.

The story below was published July 26, 2018, under the headline “The Downtown Boise stadium may be dead. Its developer is negotiating for a new site.

After more than a year of planning a stadium in Downtown Boise, an Atlanta developer now appears to favor a different site, on the southeast corner of Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard in Boise’s West End.

LocalConstruct, a Los Angeles developer that’s been active Downtown in recent years, is negotiating to sell developer Chris Schoen’s Greenstone Properties enough space for a stadium on the 6.5 acres LocalConstruct owns at that intersection, co-owner Casey Lynch said Wednesday.

Mayor David Bieter’s office has been involved in the negotiations, Lynch said. Bieter’s office did not return phone calls Wednesday. Schoen also did not return a call.

The terms and schedule of the LocalConstruct’s transaction with Schoen — if it even happens — are “pretty unclear,” Lynch said.

“We’re not really in the driver’s seat,” he said.

Also unclear is the status of Schoen’s deal to buy 11 acres near the corner of Shoreline Drive and Americana Boulevard from St. Luke’s Health System, which uses buildings there, including a former Kmart, for office space. That agreement has been in place since spring 2017, shortly after Schoen revealed his plan to build a stadium on the St. Luke’s property and surround it with commercial and residential development.

The stadium would be the new home of the Boise Hawks, a minor-league baseball team that now plays at Memorial Stadium in Garden City, and a minor-league soccer team. It also could be available for youth sports, concerts, festivals and other events.

Schoen’s plans met swift and vocal resistance. Gary Michael, former CEO of Albertsons, and Bill Ilett, former managing partner of Boise’s former Idaho Stampede D-League basketball team, formed Concerned Boise Taxpayers a year ago to oppose the stadium.

The group’s primary complaint was that public money — from the city of Boise, its urban renewal agency and the Greater Boise Auditorium District — would be necessary to pay for the stadium. The city would own the stadium after the urban renewal agency paid off a loan for it.

In December, Bieter said he was evaluating a new proposal: to move the stadium to the West End. Under that proposal, the College of Western Idaho would have given up a 10.3-acre lot it owns on the northwest corner of Whitewater and Main, across the intersection from LocalConstruct’s land. In exchange, the college would have received some of the St. Luke’s property, where it would have opened a Boise campus.

That proposal appeared to fizzle because of complications involving different landowners. This spring, Schoen submitted an application for a stadium at the original Shoreline location. That sparked a new round of criticism, with Boiseans complaining that the stadium and surrounding development would cause traffic and parking problems, disrupt the surrounding neighborhood with noise and push out low-income neighbors, all to benefit Schoen at the expense of locals.

If LocalConstruct’s deal with Schoen works out, Lynch said, his company likely would build apartments near the stadium.

The company also would have to change its agreement with the city of Boise, which traded the Whitewater property in 2016 to LocalConstruct for Spaulding Ranch, a historic home and farm LocalConstruct owned near the north end of Cole Road in the West Bench neighborhood. LocalConstruct bought the ranch anticipating a trade for city land.

That agreement required LocalConstruct to build at least 50 homes on the Main Street parcel, 10 of which were to be for low-income tenants; extend 29th Street from Main south to Fairview Avenue; install an east-west path through the property for cars, pedestrians or bicyclists; and build at least 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

David Wali, managing partner in Idaho for Gardner Co., a major Downtown developer, said he had heard that Schoen may be moving the stadium. He said the LocalConstruct property might not be as good a spot for a stadium as the Americana Boulevard site, but it has better access to the I-184 Connector.

“I think it’s potentially a good solution to keep everybody happy,” Wali said. “But I have no knowledge beyond that.”

He said the stadium at the new site would be good for business at the Riverside Hotel and The Sandbar Patio Bar and Grill, both of which belong partly to him.

LocalConstruct Downtown Boise projects include The Fowler, an apartment building in Downtown’s Central Addition neighborhood; the Watercooler, another apartment building on the southwest corner of Idaho and 14th streets; and The Owyhee, which turned Downtown’s historic Owyhee Hotel into apartments and commercial space.

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