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Idaho Shakespeare Inches Closer to Macy's


In just a few months, hard hats will be as common as ball caps in downtown Boise. With the JUMP project going full tilt, the Eighth and Main Tower topping off at 18 floors, the iconic Owyhee Plaza being transformed into apartments, and a Trader Joe's to sprout from an empty lot at Capitol Boulevard and Front Street, yet another high-profile construction project is inching toward reality.

"I think this is one of the most important things to happen downtown," Jeff Schneider, principal emeritus with CSHQA, told Boise Weekly.

CSHQA is working on plans to turn the former Macy's building at 10th and Idaho streets into approximately 62 individual apartments, ranging in size from 518 to 1,000 square feet on the second through fifth floors.

But what would go into the ground floor and mezzanine has a lot of people talking.

Boise Weekly first told you in November 2012 about the Idaho Shakespeare Festival's desire to move its headquarters, administrative, education and rehearsal space into the former Macy's building (BW, News, "Much Ado About Macy's," Nov. 14, 2012). If all goes as planned, ISF would also create a new downtown performance venue at the location.

ISF is currently negotiating with as many as three regional nonprofits that could also take over some of the space, which has sat empty since March 2010, when Macy's pulled up stakes.

"If we can get everybody on line, this will be good not only for the owners, but for that whole area," Schneider told BW. "This would give the Shakespeare Festival a permanent home and they have a huge education program during the day, which would bring a lot of people into that area every day."

When BW spoke with officials with ISF in November 2012 about the project, they were cautious but optimistic.

"The project is very exciting," said Charlie Fee, ISF's producing artistic director. "To be able to combine [workforce housing] with a performance space would be an exciting, visionary project for the city."

City of Boise officials tell Citydesk that a permit to begin construction on the housing expires approximately May 19, but an extension could be considered after that date.

"We wouldn't want to be knocking down pillars for the Shakespeare project downstairs with people living upstairs," said Schneider. "We would prefer to do all of the construction at the same time."