Is the Art Deco style of Boise’s Travis Apartments worth preserving?
Travis Apartments, a 1937 building that contains 10 inexpensive one-bedroom units, will be replaced with a new building with a mix of office space and high-end residential units.
Preservationists had spoken out against replacing the 82-year-old Boise building, located at 1620 W. Bannock St., when it was made public that husband and wife Creed Herbold and Ann Swindell wanted to tear the building down and replace it.
The building did not have any sort of historic designation, city officials said, but some considered it a sort of landmark, especially because Art Deco buildings are not common for residences People also were concerned about what the loss of relatively inexpensive housing would mean in an expensive rental market.
“His proposal to remove affordable housing in the Downtown core and replace it with high-end rentals moves the city away from its goal of retaining a diversity of housing costs,” Paula Benson, president of Preservation Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman in April.
At a Boise Planning and Zoning Commission meeting about the apartments in May, one current resident testified about how housing in that price range was not being built elsewhere.
Herbold told the Statesman that he had considered renovation but ultimately decided against it, citing how the building’s electrical system is old and how the building only occupies about 20% of the parcel on which it sits.
No one who spoke Tuesday was worried about the historic value of the building being torn down, however. Instead, neighbors shared concerns on the specific design elements of the building, including how tall it is planned to be.
Nicole Windsor, speaking for the West Downtown Neighborhood Association, shared poll results of neighborhood residents. The numbers showed that 85% of people were in favor of the new development, but 60% wanted the height reduced.
“It’s much higher than anything in this neighborhood,” Windsor said. “Sixty-five feet is kind of harsh.”
The City Council approved a rezone for the lot the building is on from C-2D zoning (general commercial with design review) to R-OD/DA (residential office with design review and a development agreement), more than doubling the allotted density of the parcel. The changes also allow for different height and setbacks, making it more conducive zoning for the new building.
The council ultimately did not change the actual height on the proposed building but added conditions to the rezone that requires the developers to use certain architectural features, such as color choices and how the roof is set up, to minimize how tall it appears.
The project originally went before the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission in May. Commissioners at that time denied the rezone, voting 4-2 against it, but the Boise City Council has the final say on rezoning decisions.
The plan went before the council in July. The rezone request was deferred at that time so that the design could be revisited. Developers modified the plans slightly to address some concerns shared at the time.