Boise & Garden City

LocalConstruct, which renovated Downtown Boise’s Owyhee Hotel, can pursue WaterCooler project

On Monday, the board for Boise’s urban renewal agency picked Los Angeles-based developer LocalConstruct’s proposal for a $5 million to $6 million, 39-unit apartment complex on the corner of 14th and Idaho streets over a competing proposal from the Gardner Co., a Utah-based developer that built Eighth & Main, Idaho’s tallest building.

LocalConstruct's $4 million plan would replace The WaterCooler building, which has been the home of a business incubator for six years. The renewal agency owns the property.

The apartments would include one-and two-bedroom units, as well as live-work spaces. The project would cover 37,000 total square feet, including 14,500 square feet of commercial space in the seven live-work units on the ground floor and a 1,250-square-foot commercial space for a restaurant, cafe or shop.

The board’s decision was not an easy one, said John Brunelle, the agency’s executive director. Board members liked both projects. Some preferred Gardner’s $9 million proposal, which would’ve renovated instead of demolishing the existing WaterCooler building. Board members John Hale, Pat Shalz and David Bieter, who doubles as Boise’s mayor, voted against the LocalConstruct proposal, not because they didn’t like it, Brunelle said, but because they liked the Gardner project better.

For the next two to three months, agency staff and LocalConstruct will negotiate a detailed development agreement. There’ no firm expectation for when the project will be done.

If the project comes together, it will force the closure of the WaterCooler.