BOISE — Since its launch three years ago, a Boise program to encourage construction of downtown residential development has subsidized almost all upscale development.
In 2015, Boise funded the housing incentive program with the goal of encouraging the development of 1,000 residential units downtown by 2020. The program allows qualified projects to receive $1,000 per unit and an additional $1,000 for affordable housing units. Right now the program is limited to downtown, but part of the city’s proposed plan for addressing the city’s growing housing affordability issue is to expand it to the entirety of Boise.
So far, the city has paid out $632,000 in incentives on seven projects. Only Adare Manor in the West End, a collaboration between the city and several other agencies, qualified for the affordable housing part of the incentive package.
City spokesman Mike Journee said when the program was created, affordable housing was not as much of a priority as it has become now. The aim instead was to help grow Boise’s downtown by encouraging residential development so the area could become a more vibrant place outside of working hours.
“Affordable housing is identified today as a need, but at the time it was just ‘we need some downtown residential to get that downtown to the next step,’” Journee said.
On Tuesday, Boise City Council approved on the consent agenda $404,000 in incentives for four projects. This includes affordable housing complex Adare Manor, the second phase of luxury condominiums The Afton, upscale apartments on Fifth and Idaho streets, and the Ash Street townhomes that will be priced at “workforce” levels.
The bulk of this round of incentives went toward Adare Manor, with $254,000 in funds. The project is under construction on Fairview Avenue and will include units for a variety of incomes, including those who make 50 percent of the area median income, 60 percent of the area median income or if they fall under the market rate category. A one-bedroom apartment will rent for $561 a month with utilities for a resident making 50 percent AMI, $682 for a resident making 60 percent AMI and $928 for a market-rate apartment.
The majority of the units will be available for renters making 60 percent AMI or less, which translates to an annual income of approximately $29,550 for one person or $42,180 for a family of four. The incentive will be paid to the private developers partnering on the project.
The second phase of The Afton, located on River Street, received $35,000. This $14 million condominium development is referred to by the developer as a “premiere urban living community” and features a rooftop deck, patios, a pet-friendly area and other amenities. There are no units currently listed for sale in the building, but the Idaho Statesman reported in April a 1,200-square-foot condo was up for $635,000.
The $12 million Fifth and Idaho apartments received $81,000 in incentives from the city. One-bedroom units rent from $1,100 to $1,900 per month.
The Ash Street townhomes, which are being constructed on Capital City Development Corporation property off of River Street, will be set aside for residents making 120 percent of the average median income or below. The development is projected to cost $5 million.
Back in 2017, City Council voted to approve $228,000 in incentives. All of this went to upscale developments The Fowler in Central Addition, the first phase of The Afton and the Watercooler apartments. Both The Fowler and the Watercooler are owned by Los Angeles-based developer Local Construct and have one-bedroom apartments renting for $1,435 to $1,750, and $1,339, respectively.
Every year the city sets aside a specific pot of money to be used for the incentive program, including $350,000 in fiscal year 2016, $100,000 in FY17 and $416,000 in FY18.
In an October report on the progress toward the 1,000 residential unit goal, the city said 405 units for a combined value of $58 million have already been constructed downtown. Another 342 units with a comparable value are currently under construction, and 268 units are under review by the city.