Monthly Archives: December 2007

Armory event draws big crowd despite big snow

The Urban Research and Design Center presented several conceptual drawings to a hardy group of residents who braved a snowstorm the evening of Thursday, January 24 at Roosevelt Elementary School. The visuals represented neighbor-recommended adaptive reuses for the Armory structure, as well as showing a variety of potential new construction ideas adjacent to the Armory. We enjoyed a vigorous discussion among the approximately 50 participants in attendance, who had a chance to discuss the various concepts with the students who created them.

The concepts include a mix of affordable, workforce and market-rate residential construction to complement mixed use of the historic Armory structure. Concepts derived from our initial public discussion on December 1 (scroll down to see minutes). You can visit the links below to view the conceptual drawings.

Meeting Invitation

Minutes from Dec. 1 Meeting

December 1 Visioning Meeting

Preliminary Conceptual Plans Underway
Based on the discussions at the December 1 meeting, the Urban Research and Design Center is currently creating basic visual representations of the following basic schemes with variations:

  1. Armory as Public Market w/associated collaborative offices, classrooms, 2 acres of food production gardens, and housing.
  2. Armory as Charter School w/shared facilities (multipurpose areas); daycare; housing
  3. Mostly housing w/bit of mixed use

The designs will be conceptual site plans and site sections showing building heights and massing – not building designs or architectural details. The basic idea is to help visualize overall site buildout and scale relative to neighboring structures and landforms. Check back the week of 12/24 to view the preliminary sketches.

Thanks to Advisory Committee member Diane Ronayne for providing detailed minutes of our initial public meeting. Diane made use of her court-reporting and journalistic skills to recreate much of the discussion verbatim, or at least do some faithful paraphrasing. Download the .pdf file to experience the conversation for yourself.

12-1-2007 armory meeting minutes

Potential uses

Not a day goes by without Committee members running into someone with an interest in the Armory site or a suggestion for creative uses for the space. Some even suggest actual tenants. We like the excitement generated by this project, and hope you do, too. Below are some sample ideas generated to date. Keep checking back to see the list grow and evolve.

Read this first. The comments and concepts presented on this web site are just that. Neighbors are in the creative/brainstorming phase at this point; not all suggestions will be realistic in terms of zoning, economics, or broader community needs.

We want to give everyone a voice, find areas of common interest and concern, then create a set of realistic priorities and recommendations that take into account issues like financing, traffic, market conditions, and most importantly local priorities and values.

A note about traffic. With the Armory sitting vacant for the past several years, any new activity will change traffic patterns in the vicinity. As fellow neighbors, we are committed to evaluating these impacts, some positive and some negative; to better understand the net traffic effects of different scenarios.

Our aim is to propose pedestrian-friendly uses that tend to reduce existing car trips where possible to balance out increases elsewhere, and to explore the type, speed and timing of traffic generated at this site.

Mixed-income / workforce housing. Boise’s downtown core has seen tremendous housing development in the past decade…virtually all of it high-end luxury condos and town homes starting at $250,000. There is currently a lack of housing affordable to key professionals (nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc.) that make our community safe and strong. The land around the Armory presents an opportunity to develop well-designed, owner-occupied housing that would serve as a recruitment and retention tool (read ‘wage subsidy’) for local public and private employers.

A perfect illustration of the need for workforce housing is available in the Workforce Housing Task Force Report for Downtown Boise, Idaho. Thanks to Katina Dutton and CCDC for sharing their final full report and a succint Powerpoint version here. This is an important read for employers, economic developers and anyone who cares about Boise’s ongoing vitality.

Workforce Housing Task Force (full) Report Workforce Housing Presentation

Sustainable design facility. The Armory site is already on Boise’s geothermal system, which presents interesting opportunities for limiting the carbon footprint of any development or tenants in the space. One suggestion would take this to another level, creating a center for education, research and applied technology in sustainable architecture, wastewater treatment, permaculture, etc. This could be a resource for policy makers, homeowners and those in the construction industry seeking products and processes to help “future proof” the built environment (i.e., protect against ever-increasing energy, health and maintenance costs through appropriate materials and technology).

Education. Several ideas have been recommended for locating a charter or other type of school in the space. One visitor proposed a Community Literacy Center and children’s museum. Another suggestion involves creating a first-rate arts and crafts school, with apprenticeships and studio space for those interested in a professional career move or simply developing a skill. Many in Boise’s arts community feel a need for additional studio and work space, from fine woodworking, metal, glass, ceramics or textiles to printmaking and painting.

Community center. Recent suggestions this week indicate a desire for a community events space with a commercial kitchen and performance and meeting facilities to accommodate various groups during evenings or weekends.

Recreational facilities. Some have suggested a need for a neighborhood-scale workout facility in part of the space, with room for yoga, dance or other fitness classes. We see the potential for this to become part of a distributed network of local health/recreational facilities that encourage neighbors to walk or bike rather than getting in a car and driving somewhere to get excercise.

Local grower’s cooperative. The Treasure Valley has seen a significant increase in the number and diversity of locally grown produce and other agricultural products. The Downtown Farmer’s Market is one outlet for these businesses; a year-round facility would cultivate support for Idaho products and the local economy.

Business incubator. several communities are investing in business incubators…affordable spaces with shared resources where local entrepreneurs can get a start in a supportive environment. These could be artists or craftspeople, web developers, or the next Micron or HP startup.

Retail and commercial. Restaraunts, coffee shops, books stores or other retail and entertainment services that appeal to residents and workers in the surrounding neighborhoods. Office space for administrative or professional services is another possibility.


See below for links that provide access to organizations and resources of interest to those seeking information on community and economic development, green building, workforce housing or projects involving “adaptive reuse,” a planning term roughly equivalent to “spinning straw into gold,” or “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” We’ve also included links to government and other entities as well. Feel free to post your own suggestions for links via the “contact us” page.

Please note: Listing does not imply endorsement.

Local Government

Urban Planning and Community Development

Workforce Housing, Transit and Community Resilience

Development Resources and Green Building

Creative Community Development and Design Projects

Sustainability, Urban Gardening and such like

Boise Armory in the News

The Armory has appeared in the news in several different contexts and could potentially play a role as the City contemplates needs and priorities. We’re collecting a few articles about the site, and assembling information about community needs and goals or other factors that might have some bearing on the Armory’s future.