For the first time in years, cranes are going up in downtown Meridian. City leaders hope they’ll start seeing even more soon.
The city’s urban renewal agency is taking proposals to redevelop a 1-acre block downtown that includes an old community center, Centennial Park, and the parking lot next to the COMPASS building at 700 2nd St. COMPASS is the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho.
In its place, Meridian hopes that a developer will build an “iconic” mixed-use project with a potential combination of office, retail and apartments to help stimulate downtown growth.
“We spend a lot of time and attention to downtown, because I truly believe that the heart and soul of the community needs to be vibrant,” Mayor Tammy de Weerd previously told the Statesman.
The request for proposals asks developers to build a new community center, between 17,000 and 22,000 square feet in size, as part of the project. The center would include a large community room, four to six multipurpose rooms, conference rooms, a fitness and yoga room, a kitchen and an outdoor patio.
Meridian’s Parks and Recreation Department plans to contribute up to $3.85 million for the community center from impact fees it levies on new construction throughout the city, in addition to providing the land.
Because the city is allowing developers to build on the Centennial Park land, it’s asking developers to add somehow incorporate public space into the parcel or at another location. It’s also asking for additional parking space.
The block also includes a building recently purchased by the Meridian Library District for its unBound technology and maker space. The library is moving forward to renovate that building, 722 2nd St., and plans to open the space to the public in 2020, said Gretchen Caserotti, director of unBound. But she added that she is open to talking with developers about how to include the library in a redevelopment project.
Already in Downtown Meridian, the Pacific Cos., an Eagle-based developer, and local businessman Josh Evarts are building two four-story buildings with a combination of apartments, restaurant and retail space. That project was part of a similar request-for-proposals that the city and the urban renewal agency collaborated on last fall.
The parcel is just north of a 20-acre parcel that has been under contract by local businessman Bill Ditz for the last 10 years. He has planned to build a similar mixed-use complex there, with underground parking, retail and apartments, but has not been able to raise funds to build.
Meridian will hold a meeting with interested developers on Tuesday, Aug. 27. The city and the Meridian Development Corp. will decide together on their preferred development by Tuesday, Oct. 29.