This site is developed and maintained by East End residents interested in Boise’s Historic National Guard Armory. It’s for you, who are curious about the Armory’s history, the structure itself, and how it might be transformed from a liability into an asset — benefitting the surrounding neighborhoods and Boise in general.
This site is developed and maintained by East End residents interested in Boise’s Historic National Guard Armory; it’s a way for all stakeholders to share facts and developments regarding the Armory location, structure and future uses.
Like others, we approached this project out of curiosity about the Armory’s historic uses and how it might be transformed from a liability into an asset. We wanted to explore outcomes that might benefit the surrounding neighborhoods and Boise in general. Currently, the structure sits vacant, although the new owners are planning a few projects to stabilize, protect and enhance the structure.
Share your thoughts about the Armory itself, the roughly 5 acres surrounding it, and the transition from public to private ownership in 2012. Potential uses may be constrained by the current owner interests, zoning and market considerations. Bottom line…the building needs a purpose and tenant(s)—the sooner the better.
The folks involved with Armory Subcommittee continue to get questions about the Armory’s status. Here’s a limited update as of March 15, 2017.
Armory after one of the many spring rains. —late April, 2017
The building exterior is in pretty nice shape and holding up well; the landscaping is established and continues to be maintained. We hear the interior lobby and stairwell are underway and should be complete later this spring. We will post pictures as available.
With ample space for parking and compatible development, the Armory presents great opportunities.
No word as yet on potential tenants, although subcommittee members stand ready to assist in any way possible in the quest for a tenant to complement the building and neighborhood zoning and character. As anyone who has seen this building and setting knows, the Armory is an exceptional property in a strategic location…ideal for a mixed-used neighborhood activity hub with a combination of retail, food and beverage, community space, workforce housing and commercial uses.
The Armory sits at the base of Boise’s Military Reserve trail system, with world-class, mixed-use hiking and biking.
Thanks to sharp-eyed preservationist and planner John Bertram for sharing information on Portland’s own historic Armory, which he says enjoys wide support and visibility.
John was visiting Portland recently and says he…
“…discovered the Portland Armory behind Powell’s Books on Davis and 10th Ave. It was built in 1891 and placed on the NR [National Register] in 2000. A developer purchased it in 1999 as part of the Brewery Blocks package and sold it to the Portland Dev. Corporation (urban renewal agency) in 2003. Funds were raised along with New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) and historic tax credits to restore the exterior and build a new structure within the interior.
Renamed the Gerding Theater at the Armory, it now houses Portland Center Stage (non profit), with two theaters, a café, offices, and support space. The Armory is open to the public, reimagined and renovated on four pillars: history, theater, sustainability, and community.”
The Armory’s ‘front yard’ has a new look, with sod, new landscaping and a few trees. New windows were installed this summer. Neighbors are for the most part very grateful for the upgrades. Now the challenge is to turn this historic gem once again into a neighborhood and community asset.
Over time many people have expressed interest in Boise’s Armory. We’ve heard so many suggestions for possible uses of this site and structure that it’s tough to pick a favorite. Whether someone sees a multiple-use structure featuring retail, restaurant, commercial and residential, or a public asset like a YMCA, everyone agrees on three main aspects that make the Armory attractive:
Location. The site occupies a hub among multiple neighborhoods, and sits at the base of the Military Reserve Trail system, a gateway to an extensive trail system. This is attractive to food and beverage retailers interested in capturing local residents and recreationists, and those involved in business related to biking, hiking, running or pets.
Geothermal. This is probably the most unique aspect of the building and the one everyone sees as a huge selling point. The Armory is first in line for hot water from the City of Boise’s geothermal wells across the street. The current service to the building needs to be updated with newer insulated pipe technology, but provides enough volume to provide heat for something like the historic Natatorium on Warm Springs. Not only does the geothermal resource translate into a perpetual 30% savings on energy use for a tenant, it represent a green energy source and the ability to dramatically reduce the building’s carbon footprint. One interested party commented that ‘where else could you find this?’
History. The Armory is a Works Project Administration (WPA) project built as America was working our way out of the Great Depression. Add to that its legacy as the home of the Idaho National Guard, the potential to connect to Guard history, and the Art Deco design of Tourtelotte and Hummel Architects. Those familiar with architectural history and preservation find the building’s classic, efficient design a big selling point.
We reported on the initial application from Verizon to construct a cell tower between the Armory and the Fire station to the west. The original application called for an 80′ tower and at the time we were told that a stealth tower (disguised as a tree or giant lumberjack) wouldn’t be allowed. Thanks to the folks at the State Historic Preservation Office and the City of Boise , all that has changed.
Work has started on the foundation and infrastructure for the tower under a “conditional use permit for a wireless communication facility that includes a “65-foot tall monopole designed to resemble a tree.” Zoning for the Armory is a C-2/DA (General Commercial with a Development Agreement) zone. A variance to reduce the side yard setback is included” to reduce the impact on the Armory property.
Excavation to the east of the Reserve Street Fire Station to route utilities to cell tower site.
See attachments for plan views and representations.