MERIDIAN — The Galena Opportunity Fund is proposing a similar project in downtown Meridian that it completed in Garden City, one that incorporates a charter school in a mixed-use setting.
The Boise-based agency was the only one to respond to Meridian’s request for proposals for redevelopment of its downtown community center and surrounding area, dubbed the Civic Block.
Galena’s proposal includes a new community center — with the upper floors potentially housing a charter school — along with retail and office space, housing units, and a parking garage on Galena’s property south of the block.
“We see great value in including the rising generation in an urban core, allowing families to thrive, all within walking distance,” Galena Opportunity Fund President Bill Truax wrote in his pitch to the city, which the Meridian Press obtained through a public records request.
“We want to make it clear that this (charter school) is optional,” he continued, “only adding that we found great success in developing one (named “FUTURE Charter School”) in our Parkway Station project in Garden City.”
The 1.24-acre Civic Block includes the aging Meridian Community Center, which is “too small for our growing city,” Parks and Recreation Director Steve Siddoway told the Meridian Press last month. The site also has Centennial Park and a parking lot — on Northeast Second and East Third streets, just south of East Idaho Avenue.
The city owns the community center and the park, and the urban renewal agency, Meridian Development Corporation, owns the parking lot. The properties are worth an estimated $1.1 million or more.
A review committee — comprised of community members, city staff and representatives of the MDC board and Meridian City Council — met on Tuesday to discuss the project, said Ashley Squyres, administrator for MDC. They are set to meet again next week. Council and MDC’s board will hold a joint meeting on Oct. 22 to discuss the project and hear the committee’s recommendation to approve, deny or amend the proposal.
Truax’s proposal includes a community center with a 500-seat auditorium, a fitness and yoga room, two multipurpose rooms, a large community room, a kitchen, community porch and a lobby.
The community center would include 18 on-street parking stalls. There will also be a perimeter with native plants, creating “both a beautiful setting and an immersive environment for those passing through and engaging the space,” the proposal states.
The potential charter school, if the support and partnerships come together, would use the top four stories of the community center.
Truax’s proposal expands past the 1.24 acres included in the city’s request. Galena purchased roughly 6.4 acres on the corner of North Main Street and Broadway Avenue — just south of the subject property. Proposed development includes retail, office and residential units built over parking podiums.
The proposal estimates construction would be done in spring 2022.
Galena estimates the community center — not including the charter school — and a parking structure with 168 stalls will cost $12.8 million to construct. In its request for proposals, the city of Meridian stated it would contribute up to $3.85 million from its impact fee fund for the construction of the new community center.
The other $8.97 million would come from city or tax increment financing, the proposal states.
Both the property the city included in its call for proposals and the 6.4 acres Galena bought are in an urban renewal district. In order to finance the nearly $9 million not covered by impact fees, Galena suggests in the proposal that the city de-annex the property from the district and create a new urban renewal district encompassing the development.
“If the Galena site is developed as envisioned, we estimate the district will generate in excess of $19 million over its 20-year life,” the proposal states. The balance would be available to reimburse a developer for various public infrastructure and amenity investments, it states.