Rick Neser started building his Idaho Self Storage just off River and 13th streets in downtown Boise in October, intending to add a four-story office building at the corner in the next year or so.
But one of Neser’s partners talked with a friend who is a board member at Riverstone International School. Very quickly, a plan matured to turn the office into a 32-bed dormitory for students at the Boise private school.
Neser inked a deal with Riverstone Dec. 1 and construction started on the 17,500-square-foot building on Feb. 1 with expected completion in August – in time for the start of the fall school term.
Ninth to 12th grade students would live on the second, third and fourth stories, with 5,400 square feet of office space on street level in 3,000- and 2,400-square-foot space that can be split.
“We are talking to a couple of parties right now for office space,” said Neser, managing member of two separate entities developing the Riverstone building and the adjacent Idaho Self Storage.
He expects a May 1 soft opening of the 44,700-square-foot storage complex that will have 432 units.
Neser was surprised by Riverstone’s desire for dormitories.
“You never know,” he said. “It’s going to be great. It’s a new concept. “It helps… the area. That area is an older demographic. Without Riverstone, we would not have built that building now.”
Riverstone Head of School Bob Carignan expects to have 12 to 16 international students residing in what he is calling Riverstone House next school year. Currently, all international students – about 17 to 25 percent of the 330-strong student body – live with host families.
“What we found is that kids have a wide range of experiences with host families,” Carignan said. “We are homogenizing that so they all get the same experience. It would be better for everybody.”
Carignan is pleased the boarding house is downtown rather than on the Riverstone campus near the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. The Boise River Greenbelt easily links the two.
“A good model we want to follow is you don’t want residential students to feel isolated,” Carignan said. “The Riverstone House becomes a good meeting place for our students.”