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Macy's Building Could Become Affordable Housing

62 apartments proposed for empty building


On Nov. 14, the Capital City Development Corporation considered a proposal to turn the former Macy's building, which has been vacant since March 2010, into affordable housing.

"For the last year, we've been pretty challenged while trying to market the building," said Dave Wali, broker with Colliers International. "Two potential buyers have come and gone. That's why we're pretty excited about this opportunity."

The proposal would see as many as 62 one-bedroom apartment units, ranging in size from 518 to 1,000 square feet on the second through fifth floors. The ground floor would include retail or nonprofit entities.

"We would need to completely gut and revamp every element of the building for this renovation," said Wali, who was joined in the presentation by Raquel Guglielmetti from Northwest Real Estate Capital Corporation, a nonprofit that specializes in affordable housing management.

"Downtown Boise has a lot of condos but very few rental units that are affordable," said Guglielmetti.

Proposed rental cost would be approximately $1.04 per square foot, or $540-$1,040 monthly, for people with an average income of $20,000-$27,000.

"And that is within Housing and Urban Development's guidelines of affordable housing," she said.

"This is a very exciting project," said CCDC Commissioner Cheryl Larabee. "And this is right in synch with one of our primary goals--to bring affordable housing to the city's workforce."

Commissioners are being asked to put some money where their enthusiasm is.

"We're looking for some financial commitment from CCDC," Wali told Citydesk. "Plus, we're talking with a number of potential stakeholders."

But the biggest request is sitting on the desks of at least seven banks, none of which Guglielmetti or Wali would mention by name. They're asking for a loan of approximately $5 million to spur the redevelopment.

Guglielmetti said NWRECC has built and managed several similar projects in Alaska, Montana and Oregon.

"We've generated $120 million in affordable housing investments since 2002," she said. Wali said Colliers and NWRECC secured a "confidential agreement" with Macy's to work on the deal.

"We're at an early stage here. Think about where we were with the Boise Hole at Eighth and Main a year ago. That's pretty much where we are right now," Wali said.