A $3 million public park and gathering space will be included in a new office tower development in downtown Boise.
Boise Plaza owner Rafanelli & Nahas plan recently proposed a 10-story tower on an existing surface parking lot at 11th and Idaho streets. The new park, a collaboration between Capital City Development Corp., the city of Boise and Rafanelli & Nahas, would sit between the proposed tower and the Boise Plaza building.
At .56 acre, the park will be a bit larger than the .55-acre Grove Plaza and its spokes to the streets. It will also be the second largest downtown city park (between Fort and Myrtle, Broadway and 16th Street) behind Cecil D. Andrus Park (formerly Capitol Park).
The city’s Downtown Parks And Public Spaces Master Plan seeks a west-side gathering place, and a park was part of the Rafanelli & Nahas master plan as it acquired the Boise Cascade (now Boise Plaza) building and surrounding surface parking lots in 2006.
“We see that as important because there is a lot of energy and activity emerging in that part of downtown,” said Leon Letson, the city’s project manager for the Downtown Parks and Public Places master plan. “Treefort is largely held in this part of downtown.”
Rafanelli & Nahas envisioned a new officer tower, a hotel and a park to accompany Boise Plaza. A new 10-story tower is proposed to share half the block with the new west side park.
“There are a lot of opportunities for development in this area and having an active, well-designed open space is critical to the success of the entire area,” said Scott Schoenherr, a partner at Rafanelli & Nahas.
CCDC will invest $2 million, the city $1 million and Rafanelli & Nahas $30,000 in the park. A small .28 acre surface parking area with about 32 spaces will remain at 12th and Bannock.
CCDC Project Manager Doug Woodruff noted that the $30,000 from Rafanelli & Nahas essentially is worth as much as $1.5 million, the amount of parking revenue the park property could generate if it remained a parking lot over the 40-year parking lease that Rafanelli & Nahas will surrender.
“Instead, they have agreed to partner with the City and CCDC on this public park,” Woodruff said. “Albeit not a cash contribution, the $1.5 million in parking revenue value that they have agreed to forego is a notable contribution to this project that both CCDC and the City recognize and appreciate.”
Two park design options
GGLO Design of Seattle and Jensen Belts Associates of Boise presented two rough design options June 14 at an open house on the park. Both design options feature rectangular lawns with trees at the edges. One option has the rectangle flush to the streets; the other has it at an angle to the streets.
Each has a hard surface “focal feature” that could be interactive art, a water feature or a fog/mist feature. A separate crushed rock plaza is also offered.
Both concepts allow for event staging with designated places for stages and sound booths. The park could accommodate audiences of 1,200 to 1,500 people.
Food truck areas could be on the street or between the park and the proposed 10-story office building. Both concepts have restrooms.
The June 14 open house sought public input on the concepts as well as smaller features such as charging stations, water fountain bottle fillers, lounge seating, free WiFi and numerous others.
“We will put amenities in there that the public desires,” Woodruff said. “We want to create a center for this up-and-coming urban neighborhood.”
The west side, with its large number surface parking lots, is becoming a focal point for CCDC with the Sept. 30 termination of the Central District urban renewal district between Capitol Boulevard and Ninth Street.
“What you’ve seen us do in the last five years in the Central District is what you will see us do in the next seven years on the west side,” said John Brunelle, CCDC’s executive director. “There is a lot of opportunity there with all the surface lots.”
The CCDC Board of Commissioners on June 11 approved a master development agreement among CCDC, the city and Eleven Eleven West Jefferson LLC (Rafanelli & Nahas). The city will sublease the park property, CCDC will design and build the park, and city Parks & Recreation will own, operate and maintain the park, while Eleven Eleven will continue to own, operate and maintain the remaining surface parking area.
“If you look at this part of downtown, there aren’t many large, open (park) spaces,” Letson said. “If we are serious about creating distinct, downtown neighborhoods and district, this park helps in that effort by creating that space for the west side neighborhood.”
Wright Brothers of Boise is the construction manager/general contractor. The plan is to start construction in March and open in September 2019, Woodruff said.