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Living On the Edge

Boise green lights housing at river's edge

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The City of Boise has cleared the way for the proposed River Edge Apartments, an off-campus housing project for Boise State. The 350,000-square-foot, five-story project is designed for 622 residents on a 3.4-acre footprint at 1004 Royal Blvd. adjacent to the Greenbelt and Ann Morrison Park.

But some neighbors aren't thrilled about the project. Eileen Barber is the owner of a three-story office building adjacent to the proposed site--a 25,000-square-foot building that houses Keynetics and its 100 employees.

"The current design would harm not only the neighborhood, including Ann Morrison Park and the Boise River Greenbelt. It also may make the proposed project an undesirable place to live," said Barber.

She called attention to the classification of the building as multi-family housing and, on April 17, asked Boise City Council members to reconsider the project, which at its highest point would be 28 feet taller than the current zoning allows.

Project planner Becky McKay, with Engineering Solutions, said the project is as tall as other riverside properties, including Barber's building.

"The Keynetics Building, right next door to us, received a height exception for 56 feet," she told Boise Planning and Zoning commissioners.

The proposed structure would include approximately 175 units, each containing four bedrooms, a shared kitchen and bathroom.

But Barber said the project's proposed underground parking won't be nearly enough for the building's residents.

"The planned 280 parking spaces will provide less than half of the student tenants a place to park their cars," she said. "This is far below acceptable averages."

The building's designers think otherwise, citing the ratio of parking spaces to residents for on-campus housing. They also pointed to plans for bicycle parking, spaces for ZipCar vehicles and access to the Greenbelt.

"[For] this particular project, we emphasize green," said McKay. "We want to limit the number of cars. We want to promote shuttle use, walking on the Greenbelt and over to the campus."

Barber's additional criticism said the building would look like "a giant wall" next to the park and the inadequate parking facilities would mean more cars parked on the streets.

Planners also said that the building's inclusion of some two-bedroom apartments could mean that anybody could live at River Edge but Barber disagreed.

"This is designed for students, and they're designing it in a way that nobody else would want to live there," she said.

Barber insisted that brakes should be applied on the project.

"There's little room for error in a project this huge," said Barber. "This isn't just a little plot next to me, this is 350,000 square feet."

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