|By Joe Estrella, The Idaho Statesman,
BoiseMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Sep. 14, 2006 - Although it would easily be Idaho's tallest building, the $126 million Boise Place hotel/condo tower Downtown won't rise to the heights of some existing structures in neighboring states.
At 31 stories and an estimated 400 feet high, the development envisioned by Charterhouse Boise Downtown Properties comes up short when stacked up against high-rises in Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake City.
"For Boise, it will be a tall building. But it's not that tall for a downtown building. Seattle and Portland will still have buildings that are much taller," says builder Gary D. Rogers. He proposes to build the project on the foundation at 8th and Main streets -- that's all that's left of the ill-fated Boise Tower.
Rogers reported to the Boise City Council earlier this week that he hopes to begin building Boise Place this Christmas, with a completion date of Christmas 2008. The structure would house 98 hotel rooms and 138 condos.
According to several online sources, the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest is the Columbia Center -- formerly the Bank of America Tower -- in Seattle at 76 stories and 937 feet high.
A distant second -- but still more than 100 feet taller than Boise Place -- is Portland's Wells Fargo Center, a 41-story office building that stands 546 feet high. In third place is the 26-story Wells Fargo Center in Salt Lake City, which at its highest point of 422 feet is 4,691 feet above sea level.
At 400 feet, Boise Place would tower 133 feet above Boise's biggest building now, the 20-story U.S. Bank Building just down the street at the southwest corner of Main and Capitol.
Jenifer Gilliland, building manager with the Boise Department of Planning and Development Services, said the project will easily be able to use the foundation that was put in for the Boise Tower.
"The Boise Tower folks really overbuilt that foundation, so it will work for this taller building," she said.
Charterhouse will also benefit from less stringent seismic requirements contained in the current building code than were in place in 1994 when the original Boise Tower shell permit was issued. Over the years, Gilliland said, earthquake studies have allowed for seismic requirements to be eased without compromising safety.
Another change in the code now will require the installation of more sprinklers than Boise Tower would have had. An old code called for the use of more fire-resistant building materials.
Meanwhile, area residents are starting to take notice of the planned high-rise.
Gino Vuolo, owner of Gino's Italian Ristorante, which sits across 8th Street from the site, had tried to buy a residence in the Boise Tower. Earlier this week, he was already looking into a condo in Boise Place, along with the first-floor retail space.
Cindy Tomlinson of Star, who describes herself and husband Michael as soon-to-be-empty nesters, was calling around Wednesday for information about who to talk to about a home in Boise Place.
"We've looked at The Aspen near BoDo and the Royal Plaza on Main, but we think Boise Place is going to be in the center of things Downtown," she said.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Idaho Statesman, Boise
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