LocalConstruct, a Boise construction company, is focusing its latest efforts on creating an infill project for one of the city’s main neighborhoods. This is the seven-story apartment building on the west side of 5th Street in the Central Addition neighborhood of Boise. The building is expected to contain 150 apartment units, ground-floor commercial and retail space, and a two-story covered parking facility.
“Infill” refers to projects and developments that “fill in” gaps of undeveloped or underdeveloped spaces in existing neighborhoods and urban areas. Infill can involve designing and constructing entirely new buildings, or it can also be accomplished through the renovation and retrofitting of existing structures.
A major goal of infill projects is to create a greater density of residential and commercial space in a particular area. For city managers, this is often seen as a way to encourage more development while at the same time relieving stress on roads and other infrastructure. When a neighborhood has a substantial amount of residential and commercial options in a smaller space, both visitors and residents are more likely to walk rather than use their cars.
The Boise project reveals some of the difficulties posed by infill development. For example, LocalConstruct’s proposed building site isn’t empty, nor is it undeveloped greenfield land. The lot contains three empty historic houses that have long had the attention of local historic preservationists. Efforts to raise interest in saving those buildings and other historic structures in Central Addition are ongoing.
As of early 2015, Boise’s preservationist community had not protested LocalConstruct’s plans for the apartment and commercial building. However, dealing with the issue of historic preservation is likely to become necessary as the project moves forward.
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