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Verizon plans 80′ tower, pre-fab building next to Armory

Scale mockup of tower position and size.

Scale mockup of approximate tower position and size as represented to Armory Committee members in June 2013.

At the EENA meeting on 5/5/14, Armory Subcommittee representatives learned that Verizon is still applying to the City of Boise to build what they originally described as a ‘stealth‘ tower, along with a 12ft by 26ft pre-fab Base Transmitter Station near the Historic Boise Armory on Reserve Street.

The public was previously invited to discuss details Thursday, June 13th from 6 to 7pm in the lot between the Fire Station and the Armory on Reserve Street in Boise. See the 2013 notice below (provided by Technology Associates via EENA) for more information. See also the armory development agreement governing use of the property.

IMGP1145 doug explains how things will be

Several neighbors and subcommittee members met with Doug Kofford, the TAEC / Consultant for Verizon last year. Diane Ronayne, Gary Richardson, Laura Shealy, Tony Tenne, Noel and Lucy Weber, and Erik Kingston turned out on 6/13 to learn about plans for the 80-foot tower, concrete bunker and the 50′ x 60′ concertina-wire and chain-link fenced enclosure to be located between the Armory and Fire Station #1 near Logan Avenue. We learned at the time that the top of the tower will have a three-sided array that is at least 12′ on a side and looks something like this:

cell_tower_6

Despite the term ‘stealth’ originally used to describe structure, it will be significant in mass and height for the neighborhood; double the height of the Armory and approximately 15′ to 20′ above the trees along Logan Ave. This begs the question: would the relatively small lease payment from a tower be offset by the potential negative impact on public (and potential tenant/patron) perception and property values?

Towers like this can lead to the ‘industrialization’ of a property or neighborhood, driving away some valuable activity and traffic.

Neighbors were interested in the potential to integrate a public art component, but learned about the restrictions inherent in cell towers. Access to the tower for servicing, reducing the chance for birds or other wildlife to damage equipment or otherwise interfere with transmission or reception are all considerations.

Armory Tower 001

June 2013 notice of ‘not a public meeting.’

photo (66)

Notice for ‘not a public meeting’ scheduled for 4/30/14.

 

Armory Status and Rumor Patrol

Following the City Council’s transfer of the Armory to J&M last year there was an initial flurry of activity in and around the building. Brush and trees were cleared away, a fence was put up to surround the building, and a few loads of construction supplies were delivered. Much of the activity seemed to focus on the building’s interior, although this is just speculation.

For the past several weeks and months, not much activity has been visible at the site. More windows have been broken, the exterior is covered in graffiti, weeds are growing and plywood window coverings have been torn down.

IMG_4098 IMG_4109 IMG_4101 IMG_4095 IMG_4115 IMG_4111

We also saw an old rumor revived that the Armory had been purchased by McMenamin’s. This is not the case. Although many folks have expressed a desire for a restaurant/brew pub for the East End/Foothills East area, there are no tenants committed as of May 2013. We assume J&M still have much to do on the interior (remediation, seismic stabilization, etc.) before the building and site are ready for prime time.

We will continue to keep you posted. Contact Armory Advisory Committee members if you know of someone interested in approximately 40,000 sq. ft. of space in a most excellent location. For a few ideas floated by neighbors during our public visioning sessions, read “Potential Uses” or “Armory event draws big crowd despite big snow“.

And please report any vandalism to the Boise City Police Department (non-emergency dispatch line 377-6790) or code violations to Boise City Code Enforcement at 208-384-3845.

Work begins to secure and stabilize Armory

armory-panorama.jpgPlanning & Zoning, City Council Actions The East End Armory Committee and many other interested residents attended last summer’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to review the Armory’s status. City staff, neighbors and the Blueprint Boise plan were all in agreement on the building’s role as a historic structure in a strategic location. Testimony at the P&Z meeting largely focused on the importance of preserving the historic integrity of the structure and its cast Art Deco concrete surfaces. The Commission agreed, and recommended placing a Design Review Overlay and maintaining a detailed development agreement on the entire five-acre parcel, to include the Armory. This would secure an option for public involvement moving forward.

One concern expressed during testimony questioned a proposal by J&M to use a cosmetic brick overlay on the historic concrete surface. Not only would this add significantly to the cost of renovation without any structural benefit, it would (according to historic preservation representatives from the National Trust and Preservation Idaho) detract from the historic character of the Armory and render the project ineligible for Historic Tax Credits*—a potentially significant financial consideration.

The outcome of the P&Z meeting addressed this concern in large part through the Design Review recommendation (supported by city staff, preservation groups and the EENA Armory subcommittee).

The Boise City Council subsequently voted (with Councilwoman Elaine Clegg opposing the motion) to remove the Design Review overlay from the Armory itself, in effect eliminating further public input in the exterior appearance of the structure. The City then approved a zone change to C-2 for the entire five-acre parcel and a development agreement transferring the property to J&M Land. According to the terms of that agreement, residential use is allowed on the undeveloped portion of the property; in fact, the development agreement requires mixed use, and any type of development will require a conditional use permit, allowing the public to weigh in when that permit is applied for.

*The Armory is currently listed on the National Register – the addition of brick or other material to the exterior means the Armory would be delisted.

As of November 3 last year, following the Armory’s transfer, the Idaho Statesman reported,

“So far, there’s no precise plan for what the 80-year-old building will become, J&M Land manager Mike McCollum said. Nor is there a firm time frame for getting started on rehabbing the building.”

What’s happening now? Those of us in the East End following the Armory story have seen ample evidence of activity at the site for the past month or two. A portion of the property is now fenced off and crews have been working to remove non-structural materials and accumulated ‘stuff’ from the Armory’s interior, presumably prior to renovation. The plans submitted by J&M to the Statesman and available to our committee show new brick being added to the to second-floor additions overlooking Reserve Street.

Although subcommittee members have referred potential tenants to J&M over the past several months, it is unclear who will ultimately occupy the Armory or what sort of purpose the building and grounds will serve. We’re hoping for an outcome that is consistent with the past five years of public comment and recommendation. As always, we welcome communication from J&M on the current status, and stand ready to support outcomes that reflect community and neighborhood interests and are in harmony with Blueprint Boise and development agreement details.

Additional photos from 12/30/12 are below:

Land deal could save and restore the Boise Armory

December 12, 2011

Land deal could save and restore the Boise Armory

The city is working with two Silicon Valley businessmen on swaps that also involve acreages at the city’s industrial park.

By Cynthia Sewell – cmsewell@idahostatesman.com

Copyright: © 2011 Idaho Statesman

The city is working with two Silicon Valley businessmen on swaps that also involve acreages at the city’s industrial park.

The historic but dilapidated 1930s-era Boise Armory may get a new life, and 200 acres of desert scrub may see industrial activity if two city of Boise deals come to fruition.

The city has searched years for the right people to revitalize the Boise Armory and the city’s underperforming industrial park near the airport. Now two powerhouse California developers are interested: billionaire Silicon Valley real estate mogul John Arrillaga and PowerBar co-founder Mike McCollum. They are the J (John) and M (Mike) of J&M Land LLC.

See full story here

What’s new with the Armory?

As we all know, time moves only one way. The Armory, like the rest of us, isn’t getting any younger. The Armory Subcommittee has so far been very impressed with the commitment shown by the Mayor’s office to pursue opportunities to preserve the historic structure and repurpose the site and interior space. We have learned that although offers have been made over time, most involve demolition of the structure.

Few developers combine an appreciation of the building’s history and Art Deco details with the resources to restore the building to a community asset. We also recognize the city could have auctioned the site off years ago, and Boise would have lost a historic reminder of our architectural and military legacy. That they have held out this long is an example of their sensitivity to neighborhood involvement and an appreciation for the strategic nature of the structure and site to Boise’s long-term vitality.

We are hopeful, and continue to hear from interested neighbors and Armory fans with great ideas for the location. The latest among these is a suggestion to create something along the lines of the Tech Shop in San Francisco. If you’ve never heard of Tech Shop, here’s a description from their web site:

TechShop is a membership-based workshop that provides members with access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a community of creative and supportive people so they can build the things they have always wanted to make.

Keep the great ideas coming!

Please stay tuned to this site for updates, put your thinking caps on and keep your fingers crossed. More soon!