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Courtesy of Boom Technology Inc.
Courtesy of Boom Technology Inc.

New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 5, 2016

Today in New West news: Colorado startup wrangles with economics of supersonic flight, an update on Black-Olive, and Boise City Hall project slated to start next year.

A few weeks ago, we reported that Boom Technology Inc., based at Arapahoe County’s Centennial Airport, was building a test plane capable of reaching 1,450 mph, or 2.2 times the speed of sound. Per Boom’s CEO and founder Blake Scholl, the plane would revolutionize business flight culture, positioning themselves as a disruptive vanguard.

But according to the Denver Post, Boom might not be speeding toward unbeatable profits on promise alone:

Yet long before travelers can marvel at a quick hop across the Atlantic, Boom will need to sell the airlines not just on a technically disruptive aircraft, but also on one that can accomplish such feats of velocity cost-effectively. It must earn a solid profit-no middling returns allowed-and this, of course, has been a key reason the Concorde was an aberration rather than the harbinger of universal supersonic travel.

Boom is likely to encounter deep skepticism in a conservative industry that still relies heavily on a fundamental airplane design devised 70 years ago. The major global airlines Boom will court operate with two cardinal maxims: It’s really hard to make money with small airplanes, and it’s really, really hard to make money with supersonic airplanes, which are renowned for their fuel inefficiency.

“I have no problem seeing the demand for this airplane,” says Marty St. George, a JetBlue Airways Corp. executive and industry veteran. “The issue is can you do it and make the numbers work?”

Boom will face a numerical gauntlet as it seeks to sell airlines on the advantages of a small, supersonic craft, with airlines posing tough questions about weight, range, fuel burn, maintenance, dispatch reliability, and dozens of other issues. The company also plans for its aircraft to fly on three engines, a departure from the industry trend of using two engines as the most efficient configuration.

In response to skeptics, Boom touts its design as a radical update of the troubled Concorde, which was operated by only two airlines over 27 years. (Braniff International and Singapore Airlines had partnerships under which they also sold tickets on the Air France and British Airways Concorde flights.) Airlines no longer abide such loud, kerosene-gulping equipment, which means new engine designs must be fuel-efficient and coupled with meager emissions and low noise.

Over in Montana, we’ve been following updates in the proposed Black-Olive project in Bozeman, a real estate development that, if erected, would substantially alter the city’s landscape and shift the conversation on housing density in The Bozone. Longtime residents, especially in a neighborhood adjacent to the Black-Olive site, say the building is out of place, adding that its potential impacts have not been carefully considered. A few weeks ago, the Bozeman City Council announced they would review the city’s planning documents in response to community input.

Black-Olive redesign

Now, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Black-Olive developer Andy Holloran has submitted revised design drawings to the city, reflecting criticism levied against the structure’s original exterior color and composition. You can see a sample of the building’s redesign, courtesy of Johnson Nathan Strohe architects. From the Chroncle:

The revised proposal adds brick facade to much of the building, and also incorporates corrugated metal and some wood siding.

The new materials, Holloran said Friday, are intended to emulate the style used in his Block M townhouses on the north side of town, a project that recently won a city beautification award.

“It’s a material palette that is recognizable and, I think, comfortable for people,” he said.

In comparison to designs submitted in October, the revision also adds an additional two-bedroom apartment to the building, bringing its total number of studio, one- and two-bedroom living units to 56.

The new iteration also includes a slight reduction in the number of parking spaces in an enclosed first-floor garage, from 38 to 36. In exchange, Holloran wants to boost the number of spots dedicated to a car-sharing service for residents from three to four.

City parking regulations, which are written to generally require a single parking space per living unit in the downtown B-3 zoning district, give developers five spaces worth of credit for each car-share slot included in a project.

Holloran is also allowed to count four spaces of on-street parking bordering the project toward his quota, meaning the revised design appears to remain in compliance with the city’s parking standards.

Many neighbors, as well as members of the city design review board, have been critical of the Black-Olive proposal, which would replace the aging office building that currently occupies the southeast corner of Black and Olive on the south side of downtown.

Among other concerns, opponents have cited the building’s size, aesthetics and parking impacts as they’ve lobbied against Holloran’s proposal, which will ultimately go before the city’s five-member commission. Opponents and proponents alike have also said they see Black-Olive’s fate as a bellwether for similar developments in the downtown area.

Keeping with development news, over in Idaho, after five years of discussion, Boise’s city hall plaza may finally be redeveloped. According to Boise’s public art manager Karen Bubb, speaking to the Idaho Statesman, demolition will start in March:

The rebuilding process should start sometime in the late spring or early summer, Bubb said. The first phase, on the plaza’s south side, is scheduled for completion by June, with the second half wrapping up by early December, she said.

The redo of the plaza in front of City Hall has been years in the making. In 2011, after learning that the fountain on the plaza’s north side leaks into the parking garage below City Hall, the City Council voted to overhaul the plaza’s art on top of rebuilding its structure.

Several attempts to find the right design failed. Finally, in early 2014, the city picked a design by Dwaine Carver and a team of fellow artists that is meant to evoke a grove of cottonwoods, the tree that inspired Boise’s name.

Then, another complication arose. Developer Gardner Co. started building City Center Plaza on the northeast side of the Grove Plaza, just southwest of City Hall. The project displaced a staging area for public transportation buses on Main Street. Authorities settled on using the one-block stretch of Capitol Boulevard in front of City Hall as a temporary replacement staging area.

Construction of City Center Plaza recently wrapped up, freeing up the front of City Hall for the plaza redo.

Bubb added the project will preserve a grove of cottonwoods on the plaza’s south side, adding a low-water fountain in the middle. In addition, the plaza project calls for another grove to be planted, along with a small lawn.

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