Today the hospital campus, located in East Boise, is fully built out, and with projections suggesting nearly 300,000 more people will be living in the Treasure Valley by 2030, the state’s largest and only Idaho-owned not-for-profit health care system is looking to expand again.“Expand” might be an understatement.
According to the St. Luke’s Master Plan, a new hospital building on the north side of Bannock and west of Avenue B is to be built all the way to State Street with a new nine-story medical tower that will rise above the existing tower past its first four floors. The new tower would house inpatient beds on the top five floors while the bottom four would give more space to current uses, including diagnostic and treatment areas.The hospital’s central plant, built in 1962 and located on the north side of Jefferson Street and east of First Street, would be demolished and a new structure built to the west along with a new parking garage, taking up the full block west of First Street between State and Jefferson streets. The garage would be connected to the new tower complex by an outpatient medical office plaza built above—and bridging—First Street.
According to the plan, the buildings at First Street south of State Street would provide a new entrance for doctors and patients.To the east, across Avenue B, St. Luke’s would build a multi-story medical building on the south side of Jefferson Street, extending a sky bridge across Avenue B to connect with the main tower.
Rounding out the expansion would be a new shipping and receiving building along the east side of Second Street and yet another medical office building on the south side of Main Street, east of First Street.Referred to as the “North Solution” in the master plan, St. Luke’s believes its preferred alternative—which carries a price tag of between $300 million-$400 million, paid for with bonds, cash and donations—will create a “more compact facility and limit sprawl potential.” However, some major changes will occur to the East Boise neighborhood in the way of street closures, building demolition and traffic congestion.
For instance, St. Luke’s wants to close Jefferson Street, and its new First Street drop-off would cause more congestion at the intersection of First, State and Fort streets. What’s more, a number of properties will need to be either demolished or relocated to make way for development—specifically on the blocks bounded by State and Jefferson streets and First and Second streets, as well as a handful along Second Street between Jefferson and Bannock streets and one on Avenue B near Reserve Street.Among the 15 buildings in the study area, which includes portions of the original Boise townsite, most are 50 years or older, making them eligible for protection as historic structures. All in, 12 properties could be considered for relocation based on their age, though according to the master plan, “there is no indication the properties within the study block area were associated with an important person in Boise’s history.” Further, none are known to be built or designed by noted local architects or architectural firms and the styles of the buildings are “modest examples” of Queen Anne, Bungalow and Colonial Revival not uncommon throughout other neighborhoods in Boise.
While a survey of the buildings based on historical significance “did not support the properties as meeting requirements for consideration as historically significant,” a group of stakeholders including Preservation Idaho, the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, Idaho Heritage Trust, National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Boise City Department of Arts and History and Boise Historic Preservation Commission suggested moving some of the properties. St. Luke’s identified a hospital-owned property along Avenue B between Warm Springs Boulevard and Bannock Street where the displaced buildings could be moved and repurposed. However, the relocation plan would require a rezone.The St. Luke’s master plan calls for an aggressive timeline for the expansion, with demolition of St. Luke’s-owned buildings to the north and west of the existing hospital, as well as construction of a pediatric medical office building on the corner of East Jefferson Street and Avenue B, set to begin in six months and run for two years.
The new central plant, parking garage, and shipping and receiving building would all be built in the next one- to three-year period, including demolition of the current central plant and the vacating of Jefferson Street between Avenue B and First Street. City planners have called on St. Luke’s to work harder to improve connectivity in the wake of street closures, including expanded bike and pedestrian paths in the area, as well as improved signalling and signage.In three to five years, the hospital aims to construct the new tower and six- to nine-floor medical office building planned to bridge First Street, connecting the garage to the main hospital. In five to seven years, St. Luke’s will undergo a wide ranging, extensive remodel of existing facilities, rounding out the massive project.
Boiseans will have a chance to view and comment on the master plan, with hearings—times and dates not yet announced—before the Ada County Highway District and Boise City Council.