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City Under Construction

Six big projects to watch this fall

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KELSEY HAWES AND HIGHNOON
  • Kelsey Hawes and HighNoon

Boise has never been a hemmed-in place, and if residents wanted more space, they could buy or build large homes far from the downtown core and commute to work and play. But housing stock in the city has changed in recent years, as mixed-use developments, downtown and near-downtown living have begun inching toward the demand already achieved in larger cities. Riding the wave of high-density, mixed-use developments is The 951, located at the confluence of Park and Parkcenter boulevards, and Front Street.

Today, The 951 is the particleboard skeleton of a building--construction began in mid-May--but when it's completed in mid-December, it will be a 68-unit apartment complex with 4,000 square feet of commercial space. Eight of its apartments will be living/work space combination units. From the outside, the future gray and off-white structure will blend aesthetically with many of the buildings east of Broadway Avenue. Inside will be apartments with rents ranging from $850 per month to $1,525 per month, all equipped with laundry, granite countertops, full kitchens and outside spaces like balconies and mini gardens.

Its combination of commercial and residential--not to mention proximity to Boise's core--places The 951 squarely in the "downtown living" category, and for future property manager and current 951 investor Cathy Rosera, being on the edge of downtown means providing amenities for young city dwellers in conjunction with the perks of living just off the beaten path.

"We've got 12-foot ceilings, high-end finishes. We're just far enough from downtown that there won't be the noise," she said. [It's] right across from the Greenbelt and Walnut Park [within] walking distance from the hospital."

KELSEY HAWES AND GGLO & RMH
  • Kelsey Hawes and GGLO & RMH

"Honestly, we just thought 'Afton' was a pretty cool name," said Michael Hormaechea, manager of Boise-based RMH, co-developer of the new-mixed use development planned for Ninth and River streets.

"We did some cursory research and discovered that a company called the Afton-Lemp Electric Company was on the site," he said.

Emory Afton was president of the wholesale electric parts company, which was incorporated in 1941 and continued through the 1960s. He had a brother (Earl), sister (Amon) and business partner (Bernard Lemp Jr.). Afton's only claim to fame was his Boise electric company, part of the city's warehouse district that was left over from the city's railroad era in the late 19th century.

Little did Afton know that his name would adorn one of the most anticipated developments in Boise's modern era.

"We had high interest from some of the best development groups you could ask for," Capital City Development Corporation Executive Director John Brunelle told Boise Weekly last March, after announcing that RMH and Portland, Ore.-based GGLO's proposal was the head of the class.

The plans include a mix of uses: residential, retail, restaurants, galleries and a pedestrian alley.

"The pedestrian alley will encourage cultural or artist spaces on the ground floor with some connected living spaces on the second floor," reads RMH's proposal to the city of Boise, which comes up for consideration by the city's Design Review Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 13. "We anticipate small neighborhood public events and outdoor dining."