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First new retail building in a decade set for Bown Crossing

Toast Bistro is slated for the last vacant lot at Bown Crossing. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Toast Bistro is slated for the last vacant lot at Bown Crossing. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Westmark Credit Union will open a branch on Boise’s southeast side, and the last empty retail lot at the Marketplace at Bown Crossing will be the site of a breakfast and lunch establishment called Toast Bistro.

Both projects involve Idaho Falls-based Westmark and broker Jeffrey Hall at Northwest Commercial Advisors in Meridian.

Westmark had owned the .54-acre Bown Crossing parcel since 2006, but the credit union finally abandoned plans to build a Bown Crossing branch, Westmark Chief Operating Officer Gil Birdsong said. An investor Hall represents bought that parcel in September.

Another investor group Hall represents acquired the former Home Federal Savings building at Parkcenter Boulevard and Apple Street in March. Westmark bought the 4,850-square-foot bank building for $1.35 million, with the sale closing Sept. 29.

Westmark Credit Union will fill the former Home Federal Bank building at Parkcenter Boulevard and Apple Street. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Westmark Credit Union will fill the former Home Federal Bank building at Parkcenter Boulevard and Apple Street. Photo by Teya Vitu.

However, a Westmark branch will not open on Parkcenter until likely early 2019. Birdsong said it will take that long to assemble a staff for that branch.

Westmark bought the Bown Crossing lot before the population had grown rapidly on the southeast side of Boise, and before the Parkcenter Bridge was built. Then the recession came along.

“It was always a difficult thing for us to build at that location,” Birdsong said. “The bridge was not built. The population was not big enough.”

With the Saint Alphonsus Health System clinic opening in April 2015 behind the Westmark lot, Birdsong wasn’t sure Westmark could win city approval for a drive-thru.

Westmark has 14 branches, with four in the Treasure Valley. The Eagle branch opened in 2004, the Meridian branches in 2006 and 2015, and the Nampa branch in 2008. The Apple and Parkcenter branch would be the first in Boise.

“We wanted to be closer to downtown (Boise),” Birdsong said.

Jeffrey and Tamara Hall initially planned to open Toast Bistro in the Home Federal building. Jeffrey Hall was the real estate consultant acquiring the property for primary investors Steven and Mary Ann Adamson of Nampa.

Instead, both Westmark and the Halls got the better locations for their enterprises.

“Bown Crossing is totally different; that’s where people go to eat,” Jeffrey Hall said. “Bown Crossing has become a very sought-after location with no availability.”

The credit union can move into an existing bank building instead of building a branch, and Toast Bistro doesn’t have to remodel a bank into a restaurant, which Hall estimates would have cost him $200,000 more than opening the bistro in the new building at Bown Crossing.

“This has been a miracle for us,” Hall said. “It truly saved us so much money not to have to convert the Parkcenter building.”

Bown Crossing was built from 2003 to 2006 as a mostly two-story mixed-use restaurant, retail, and office center at a four-way intersection. Westmark had had the Parkcenter corner property locked up since 2006. As Birdsong was making the deal with Hall to purchase the Home Federal building, he wondered if Hall could help sell the Bown Crossing property.

“I went to another investor group and talked to them about teaming it up with my concept (Toast Bistro),” Hall said.

Yick Yee Family Company LLP, with Boyd Yee as managing member, bought the .54 acre Westmark lot and will build a one-story, 6,500-square-foot structure. Toast Bistro will fill 3,000 square feet, leaving another 3,500 square feet that Hall believes will land another restaurant.

Town Bistro will occupy a one-story, 6,500-square-foot structure at Martketplace at Bown Crossing. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Hall.

Town Bistro will occupy a one-story, 6,500-square-foot structure at Martketplace at Bown Crossing. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Hall.

Slichter|Ugrin Architecture of Boise is the architect.  A general contractor has not been selected. Hall expects construction to start in March, with Toast Bistro opening Aug. 23.

“Toast is very upscale and trendy, galvanized steel and reclaimed wood, very urban,” Hall said. “The Tuscan breakfast burrito will be the signature item.”

Toast will not have standard table service. Patrons will order at the hostess stand and management will do table service. Hall said the goal is faster service and higher wages for staff.

“Toast will be catered to by millennials and families that want to eat and get out,” Hall said.

The Halls previously opened Le Peep in Meridian in May 2014 and sold it in June 2016 to the Le Peep franchisee in Coeur d’Alene.

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.