By Nick Rosenberger
The area around the Boise Airport may look a little different as a former mayor and his company develop a 183-unit apartment complex, a 240-room hotel and a 12,000 square-foot Hindu temple on one 9-acre site. The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission has approved an exception to zoning standards to allow ex-mayor David Bieter and Gardner Co., the developers, to construct the buildings at 3300 S. Vista Ave.
The project “will not adversely affect other property in the vicinity,” according to a city of Boise staff report. The property, owned by Boise Management Inc. and president Pinal Doshi, is split between a residential zone and a commercial zone, giving developers an uncommon ability to merge multiple types of uses.
“It’s a unique piece of property that allows us to integrate [affordable housing] with the commercial use,” said Geoffry Wardle, a Boise attorney representing the developers, at a commission meeting Monday. The development would replace three existing motel buildings, an undeveloped 2-acre parcel on the eastern side, and structures dating back to the mid-1960s. Wardle said the developers will demolish the buildings as they have reached the end of their functional lives.
The project fits squarely within Boise’s recent zoning code rewrite that focuses on increasing density and mixed-use development, Wardle said. With affordable housing, a five-story hotel, underground parking and a religious institution on one site, Wardle said he wasn’t sure how much more mixed-used a property could get.
“It’s kind of a unicorn application,” Wardle said. “It’s the reuse of a parcel that has lived its good life.” The somewhat L-shaped site is bordered by Interstate 84 to the south, South Vista Avenue to the west and the New York Canal to the north. Three apartment buildings would go up on the southeastern side and the hotel and temple on the northwestern side. Single-family homes lie north and east of the site, while the airport sits just southwest, on the other side of the freeway.
The commission allowed the developers to apply “general commercial” zoning standards to the entire site. It also granted the developers a conditional use permit and three height exceptions that allow the developers to build the hotel and temple to a maximum height of 65 feet.
Developers will need to include a bus stop on the northwestern side of the property to comply with Valley Regional Transit and Ada County Highway Department requirements. Gardner Co. would construct the project in three phases. The first phase would bring the apartments, with 37 offered as workforce housing whose rents are deemed affordable for tenants earning 100% of the area median income. The median income for a two-person household in Boise is $78,654, according to the city, with rent at $1,966 per month deemed affordable. The developers would build 125 one-bedroom units, 53 two-bedrooms and five three-bedrooms.
Phase 2 would bring the demolition of the three motels and the construction of the five-story hotel, which would include a restaurant, meeting space, lounge, board rooms and recreation space.
Phase 3 would bring the two-story Hindu temple in a traditional design. Wardle said the property owners are Hindu and wanted a cultural center celebrating their faith as part of the development. “I’m just excited to see that some religious institution is stepping up to the plate and delivering affordable housing,” said Commissioner Chris Blanchard. “I’d like to see more of that.”
According to the staff report, the apartments’ amenities would include a courtyard, pickleball court, tot lot, covered barbecue and seating area, dog park and indoor amenity space with a pool.