We felt it would be helpful to list some frequently asked questions about the Armory site. As the process moves forward, these FAQs are bound to evolve, so keep checking back for updates.
Who owns the Armory?
The City of Boise appears to have acquired the Armory in 1993. (view 1993 Warranty Deed)
The City of Boise transferred the property to private California developer J&M in 2012 after a lengthy negotiation.
Why was it for sale in the first place?
The City initially planned to sell the Armory site and other parcels to meet projected budget needs, primarily for library expansion in various neighborhoods. The Armory Subcommittee worked with City officials between 2007 and 2012 to find productive uses for the site and structure. The overwhelming preference of neighbors and community respondents to our public process wanted to see the historic building and its exterior preserved and re-purposed as a mixed-use activity center in keeping with Blueprint Boise and other long-range land-use plans. Boise residents wanted to see a mix of retail, commercial residential and community public space on the site.
Is the Armory protected from demolition?
The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places, and while this creates certain opportunities for funding and preservation, it does not protect the site from demolition. In the Development Agreement negotiated prior to the transfer to J&M, the building was protected from demolition. In order to take advantage of Historic Tax Credits, the original historic exterior would need to be preserved/restored. The clear recommendations of professional city staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Armory Subcommittee included a Design Review (DR) overlay to preserve the structure’s original cast concrete exterior, although the Boise City Council (with the exception of Elaine Clegg) bowed to pressure from J&M and removed the DR overlay, dismissing years of study, expert opinion and public process.
What about Zoning?
As of 2007, Ada County Assessor’s office records of the two main parcels (Fire station and Armory, and parking lot to the east of the Armory) show as R-2 and R-3, respectively, although that changed following the Council and P&Z rulings. Here are links to the parcel descriptions as of early 2007. Some lot line adjustments have been made to separate the Fire Station from the Armory property in question. As the current documents are made available they will be posted here for review.
West parcel (prior to splitting off the Fire Station)
East parcel bounded by Avenue H, Logan and Reserve
Overhead view of East parcel
What is EENA’s interest in the site?
The East End is just one neighborhood with a stake in the Armory’s future. EENA residents have long discussed a need for a location that would allow a mix of retail, commercial and public purpose uses. Think Hyde Park, Vista Village or Bown Crossing. EENA members would likely be impacted the most by changes to the site; at the same time, we would be among the primary customers for any businesses or services located there. Depending on the site’s ultimate uses, other Boise neighborhoods could realize direct or indirect benefits.
What are the role and agenda of the Advisory Committee?
The Advisory Committee initially served to gather and share information, and help draft a set of recommendations that EENA’s board could share with elected officials and City staff for consideration. We are facilitators. We had hoped that a strong and inclusive public process up front would give the City of Boise and potential developers a clear sense of neighborhood and community needs and priorities. We set out to articulate a strategic vision for the site that meets long-term city and neighborhood goals, and creates a perpetual asset for the entire community.
With the transfer of the Armory to private hands, our role has changed dramatically. We made every effort to provide the city and developer with all available research, drawings and other information in order to preserve the structure and (hopefully) see the community vision made a reality. Once the deal was closed, we have had little or no contact with the City or J&M.
Has there been an appraisal?
We are aware of a formal appraisal completed in January of 2006. That appraisal placed the fee simple value of the land only (less demolition costs) at $1.925M and the land with the improvements intact (Armory structure) at $2.485M. The appraisal contains a market analysis of the site and structure based on the conditions and available data at the time.
Thanks to the City of Boise and Brad Knipe at Integra Realty Resources for allowing us to post excerpts from the January 2006 appraisal of the Armory property. (See link below to a low-resolution version)
Please note. This information was collected and provided for a specific client and purpose (a new appraisal may be completed on the site in the coming year, as many conditions have changed). It is listed here simply to provide a point-in-time snapshot of the Armory property’s perceived market value in 2006 and to illustrate aspects of the property and market conditions of general interest to development professionals.
Questions about this or future appraisals should be directed to Jennifer Pirtle at the City of Boise; please do not contact the appraisers, as their scope of work was completed upon delivery of this product to the City in 2006 and we wish to respect their time.
How big is the Armory?
The Armory structure is divided into three main sections:
1. Three levels of office and storage space in the section facing Reserve Street, with approximately 7,000 per level for a total of 21,000 square feet.
2. The central section is the Drill Hall, a 180′ x 80′ barrel-vaulted open space enclosing approximately 14,400 square feet.
3. The oldest section at the back of the property originally housed the military stables; it contains approximately 9,000 square feet.
Total interior square footage is estimated at just over 40,000 square feet.
The land area is approximately five acres, pending final lot line approval by the City.
What does the Armory look like inside?
The Armory has been vacant for several years. It is essentially empty, and has been vandalized to some extent. While the structure has been deemed sound in many respects, it’s relatively trashed in some areas and needs substantial cleanup. Check out the video clips and photo gallery for a glimpse.
When we were last allowed inside the building we observed some asbestos, quite a bit of juvenile and uninspired grafitti on the walls, and bits and pieces of heating systems scattered throughout. We understand J&M did some work on the exterior and interior of the building in late 2012 and early 2013. We have no way to confirm any inside activity as the site is currently fenced off to the public and we do not have access.
How can I get involved?
Send us an email…post your comments, suggestions and questions…or subscribe to the RSS feed. We’ll post information on news or activities involving the site as available. The best thing you can do is find a tenant or group of tenants interested in pursuing activities that would be supported by the surrounding neighborhoods and community. Our understanding is that J&M is holding out for a single tenant or management group to lease the site and structure. A single tenant would definitely not be consistent with the findings of the public process.
What good is all this information, and why bother?
Any and all information will be made available to all interested parties: neighbors, government, media, and potential tenants. Consistent, accurate and fully accessible information forms the basis for sound strategies, reasonable discussions, and practical expectations all around. At the very least, it should help avoid big last-minute surprises for any stakeholders.Prior to 2007, neighbors were largely passive observers of the Armory and its activities; from 2007 to early 2013, we took on a more proactive role to inform the way forward. Now that the property is privately held, we can only hope to direct serious and community-minded tenants to the property and hope that J&M will keep the people of Boise and neighbors in mind as it manages this asset.