Whole Foods Rezone Request Denied by Planning and Zoning

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After more than an hour of debate at Monday evening’s Planning and Zoning committee hearing at Boise City Hall, commissioners voted 5-2 to deny a rezone request on behalf of natural foods behemoth Whole Foods.

Schlosser Development, which built the Whole Foods flagship store in downtown Austin, wanted to rezone a 5.6 acre plot at one of the busiest intersections in Boise. The company proposed changing the long-vacant triangle bounded by Broadway, Front and Myrtle Streets from R-ODD, residential office with downtown design review to C-4DD, planned commercial with downtown design review.

This rezoning request was necessary because Schlosser Development substantially revised its previously approved plans for the land. The company originally received a green light from Planning and Zoning in 2007 to construct a much more ambitious project in the same spot, featuring a 17-story residential and hotel component, along with ground level retail and parking structures.

The new plans, as presented on Monday by Schlosser’s Rick Duggan and Brad Schlosser, include a two-story, 46,000 square foot grocery store with street level parking and a drive-through, and a second 15,000 square foot building to house another retailer.

Prior to Monday's meeting, Planning and Zoning's own staff recommended approving the rezone and the Conditional Use Permit. Capital City Development Corporation, on the other hand, expressed concerns about the project’s low-density, big-box design, lack of pedestrian friendliness and the visible surface parking lot in front of the building, all of which go against the River-Myrtle master plan for the area.

After ultimately voting to deny the rezone, the Planning and Zoning committee also voted unanimously, "with heavy hearts," to deny the accompanying Conditional Use Permit. Those recommendations are set to go before the City Council in the near future. If City Council doesn’t approve the project, then Schlosser Development will have to wait one year before they can begin the process again. Should Schlosser drastically revise its plans before that time, the Planning and Zoning committee will be able to reconsider the requests.

For more in-depth coverage of this story, check out next week's issue of Boise Weekly.