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Zions Bank to fill Boise’s infamous Hole at Eighth and Main

Zions Bank plans to anchor a building Gardner Co. plans at the long-vacant site at Eighth and Main streets in downtown Boise. Rendering provided courtesy Gardner Co.

 Zions Bank plans to anchor a 15-story commercial building tabbed for the so-called “Boise Hole” site in the center of downtown, the bank and project developer Gardner Co. announced Sept. 19.

Construction is expected to start next spring and conclude in 2014 at the northwest corner of Eighth and Main streets, where the site has languished for nearly a decade as an open foundation. Zions will move staff from other downtown Boise buildings and elsewhere to the new structure, to be called Eighth & Main. 

Gardner Co., with offices in Idaho and Utah, in late July announced plans to buy the site from Lake Tahoe-based builder Robert Capps. Gardner has several commercial real estate projects in the Boise area, including the sizable Portico development largely completed at Franklin and Eagle roads in Meridian. 

The new proposal is smaller than its predecessors, and calls only for commercial space. Previous proposals included residential condos. 

Gardner’s proposed Eighth & Main building will have two floors of retail space, three levels of parking and 10 stories of upscale office space, officials with the developer announced. No tenants other than Zions Bank were announced for the 253,000-square-foot building. The Colliers International real estate firm is marketing space in the planned building. 

CTA Architects of Boise and Babcock Design of Salt Lake City are involved in the Eighth & Main project. The developer plans to seek Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A project cost estimate was not released. 

Zions is in preliminary discussions with Gardner Co. about providing financing, said Michael Morris, Zions Bank executive vice president for real estate. Zions has financed other Gardner projects. 

The developer plans geotechnical work and some remediation on the foundation pit, where Gardner evaluated the extent existing concrete footings could be used, said Boise attorney Geoff Wardle, who represents Gardner Co. 

Gardner Co. plans to submit applications with Boise city planning officials the week of Sept. 19-23, Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist said. 

Zions Bank spokesman Rob Brough said it’s not known how many floors Zions will occupy. Zions offices in other downtown Boise buildings, and some other locations in the Boise area, will move to Eighth & Main, he said. The bank’s downtown branch also will move. 

Zions Bank President A. Scott Anderson said the top floor will be a meeting and boardroom facility available to the public. 

Now in downtown Boise, Zions occupies all of the first and third floors of a three-story building at Ninth and Main streets, and about half the second floor, said Kelly Robertson, Boise-based senior vice president and director of regional credit. Zions occupies the entire second floor of a building to the north, at Ninth and Idaho streets. 

“We’re committed to growth in this market,” Brough said. ” 

Zions operates 26 branch offices and employs 301 in Idaho. The bank came to the state in 1997 and has increased its share of deposits here substantially in recent years, Brough said. The bank has been a consistent leader in Idaho in issuing U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loans. 

The site at Eighth and Main streets in downtown Boise became vacant in 1987, when fire destroyed the Eastman Building. 

Seattle-area developer Rick Peterson of Boise Tower Associates in 1997 proposed a 25-story building with commercial spaces and condos, and bought the site from urban-renewal agency Capital City Development Corp. in 2001. Peterson did foundation work, but was unable to secure financing after several attempts. 

A default of the development agreement was declared in June 2003, and CCDC asked Peterson to give back the site. Litigation ensued, and ultimately he agreed to pay CCDC and transfer title to Charterhouse Boise Downtown Development. 

Charterhouse in the spring of 2006 announced plans for a 31- to 34-story commercial and condo project to be called Boise Place. Charterhouse, headed by Gary Rogers, later filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Capps, who had bought the loan and was primary lien holder, acquired the property in an April 2009 foreclosure sale. He did not announce a development plan but had used a commercial real estate brokerage to market the property.

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