Block 75 letter from NENA

NENA recently mailed a letter to Pastor Duane Anders of the Cathedral of the Rockies regarding potential development of the church’s Block 75, a parcel of land between 11th & 12th streets and Fort and Hays. The block currently houses a parking lot, an empty lot, a community orchard, and the Downtown Teaching Farm. It previously was the site of historic homes that were owned by the church. 

Tonight, Sept. 6, the church is holding a public presentation: “The Church & Housing: What Needs to be Done? What can We do?” It will be from 6-7 p.m. at Cathedral of the Rockies, 717 N. 11th Street, in the Emmaus Center. 

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Dear Pastor Anders and members of the Church Council,

The North End Neighborhood Association (NENA) writes this letter in response to the announcement that the Cathedral of the Rockies (FUMC) is evaluating development options for Block 75, which is adjacent to the church. As you are aware, proposed development of this parcel over the past 15 years has been contentious at times for both the church and the neighborhood. Not wanting a repeat of the past, we encourage FUMC to reach out to its neighbors and include the community in open discussions on what development of Block 75 might become.

We wish to state at the outset that we do not oppose development on the site. On the contrary, NENA feels that something truly remarkable could happen here. A project that could transform this seemingly underutilized but extremely significant parcel into a model of sustainable development. But it is important to reiterate that the neighborhood still has serious concerns with the impacts that a development of this magnitude will have on not only its immediate neighbors. Issues such as traffic increases, noise, congestion, parking as well as the massiveness and architectural design could compromise the Hays Street Historic District and the North End as a whole.

Block 75 presents a rare opportunity for the church, its stakeholders and the entire neighborhood to work cooperatively in the creation of a project that could help address Boise’s current need for affordable housing, the parking needs of the church, preservation of green space by retaining a garden while maintaining the historic character of the neighborhood.

Recently, the Salvation Army announced that it was vacating the Booth Home / Marian Pritchett School and selling the property, an entire residential block on 24th Street in the North End Historic District. Wanting to explore the best possible options for the property, NENA teamed with another community partner in conducting a series of visioning workshops for residents and stakeholders.

The outcome of this collaborative visioning workshop produced a remarkable variety of configurations and mixed uses that proved valuable to the developer. This effort resulted in preservation of open space, retention of  most of the mature trees, preservation and repurposing of the historic 1921 school building and  the addition of an  assortment of  housing units including single family, condos and town homes of varying sizes.

But most importantly, this process provided a vehicle that engaged the community in a meaningful process of determining what met community needs while enhancing the neighborhood. We believe the process led to a much smoother transition for the developer because the developer had a better sense of community needs and desires from the very beginning.

A similar process could be implemented for Block 75, and we welcome the church to engage such a process.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to talking with you soon.

 

Sincerely,

The North End Neighborhood Association, Inc.

board@northendboise.org