Tuesday, January 24, 2017
In my non-day job, I am a board member of a local neighborhood association in Boise. A major upcoming issue in our historic neighborhood is the Salvation Army's closure of a 1921 building known as the Marian Pritchett School, which has provided a home and education for young mothers for nearly a century. That building, which has a mid-century addition, sits on an entire city block in Boise's oldest residential neighborhood, called the North End. (Full disclosure: I live two blocks away from the site.) The Salvation Army is seeking to sell the building for as much as it can in order to fund a new building several miles away.
The availability of an entire block in this otherwise fully urbanized neighborhood is, quite literally, a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The question is: what to do with it? I am looking for examples from around the country where historic structures have been paired with private development in a project of this scale to (i) preserve the historic building and (ii) confer a public benefit. There is also a lovely neighborhood park within a block of the site, further enhancing the project's appeal. One possibility that may be on the table: the city may be leaning towards up-zoning the site to permit high-density residential in this otherwise single-family neighborhood. If it does so, the additional revenue to the private developer should permit the conveyance of a public benefit, such as perhaps the operation of a public arts or play program in the adjoining park. I'd welcome any examples, especially of projects at this scale, that would illustrate how other communities have permitted density in singel-family neighborhoods while also preserving historic structures and enhancing the community at large. Other interesting projects also welcome. You can e-mail me at millers <at> uidaho.edu.
(Article about the house here.)