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Retail Square Proposed for Capitol Boulevard and Front Street

'This project will be an exciting addition to the city fabric'

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Architects are set to unveil plans to turn a 1.7-acre parking lot in the heart of downtown Boise into a development of four retail structures framed by Capitol Boulevard, Front, Sixth and Broad streets.

The lot, which currently holds approximately 250 parking spaces for downtown workers, students and faculty of Concordia Law School, employees of Boise Weekly (which is kitty-corner from the lot), BODO shoppers and theater-goers, sits on what planners at Erstad Architects call "two gateway streets [Front and Capitol], and is a very prominent location within the city."

Exactly which four retailers would go into the four buildings, ranging in size from 2,000 to 13,200 square feet, remains a mystery. Officials in the City of Boise Planning and Development Services department say they haven't been told who the possible tenants would be. Even Kay Harper of Erstad Architects told Citydesk that her colleagues haven't been told by the potential developer.

"It's at a very early stage. We notified property owners in the surrounding area of the proposed conditional use permit," said Harper. "Our next step would be an application for a conditional use permit from the City."

Indeed, the City's Design Review Committee will consider the CUP at its Wednesday, Dec. 12, session, slated for 6 p.m. at the Idaho State Capitol.

That's where the public will get its first glance at conceptual drawings, showing buildings made of clay masonry brick, steel panels and glass. One of the proposed buildings indicates a drive-thru that would require its own conditional use permit. Proposed landscaping includes 28 trees bordering the block and nearly two dozen more interspersed through the parking area.

But parking would become an instant challenge to the workers and customers who currently use the lot. In fact, at least one City of Boise parking official is keeping a close eye on the proposed project.

Stuart Prince, a supervisor for Boise Parking Services, wrote in an interdepartmental email on Nov. 14 that he would be "very interested when this project may start."

"This area is going to go to the head of the list of areas which are going to get parking meters," wrote Prince. The surrounding streets currently offer one- or two-hour non-metered street parking.

Meanwhile, planners are moving forward.

"We feel that this project will be an exciting addition to the city fabric, both in design and energy," wrote Andy Erstad, owner of the architectural firm that crafted the design.

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