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New West Daily Roundup for Mar. 30, 2017

Today in New West news: Black-Olive development in Bozeman gets conditional approval, new Boise stadium could generate $200M, and Forest Service plan to limit camping in parts of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

Over the past few months, we’ve been following updates regarding the proposed Black-Olive development in Bozeman, Montana. The mixed-use residential and commercial development has sparked a passionate debate between city planners and residents, some of whom fear such a development goes against the character of the city (and especially the neighborhood where it’s currently planned) and would exacerbate existing problems in the area (congestion, lack of parking, etc.).

Now, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, city planners have given the tentative go-ahead to Black-Olive, adding that approval is contingent on the success of a proposed car-sharing program associated with the building. The program aims to reduce parking demands. From the Chronicle:

Despite substantial opposition from neighbors over Black-Olive’s proposed height, aesthetics and parking impacts, Development Review Manager Brian Krueger writes that the building’s height and size meet zoning standards for the downtown commercial district. The building also complies with the city’s design guidelines for downtown commercial areas, he writes.

That recommendation is at odds with the conclusions reached by the city’s volunteer Design Review Board, which advises elected commissioners on major development proposals. The design board includes architects and other community members and has panned two iterations of the Black-Olive project over its aesthetics and scale. One board member called Black-Olive an “elephant” at a meeting earlier this month.

The five-member Bozeman City Commission, which has final authority over development decisions inside city limits, will vote on the project at its weekly meeting on Monday, April 3.

Developer Andy Holloran, of HomeBase Montana, wasn’t immediately available to comment on the planning staff recommendation Thursday.

As proposed, Black-Olive would include 56 rental apartments — 16 studios, 24 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom units. It would also provide 37 enclosed parking spaces on its first floor, four of them dedicated to the car-sharing program.

As it stands, Black-Olive does not have enough parking on-site for each resident to have their own spot. According to Holloran however, Enterprise and Zipcar have expressed interest in participating in the car-share program, though residents are skeptical that tenants at Black-Olive will make full use of the service.

Keeping with real estate news, a new stadium deal proposed by the Boise Hawks earlier this week could bring in $200 million in “private development” to downtown Boise. Although, depending on which figure you look at, it could be closer to $60 million, according to the Idaho Statesman:

First, a little background. According to the deal, Greenstone Properties, an Atlanta-based developer, would buy 11 acres in the area of Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive from St. Luke’s Health System for an undisclosed amount of money. Greenstone would donate four of those acres to a government agency, perhaps the city of Boise or Greater Boise Auditorium District. That’s where the stadium would be located.

In addition to the land, Greenstone would donate $1 million toward the construction of a stadium. The city of Boise would match that with $1 million of its own. The auditorium district, which gets its money from a tax on hotel rooms, might put in some money of its own. The city’s urban renewal agency would borrow money to cover the balance.

This is where the difference between $60 million and $200 million becomes important. The renewal agency gets its money from what’s known as tax increment financing.

Here’s how tax increment financing works: When the city establishes an urban renewal district, the tax money from that district is split. For as long as the district lasts, all of the property taxing entities — city, county, schools, highway district, mosquito abatement district, etc. — receive the same amount of tax money from the new district as they are receiving at the moment the district is established. As the value of property rises, additional tax money goes to the renewal agency, which is supposed to use that money to breathe economic life into the district.

Boise has four urban renewal districts and would establish a new one for the stadium and surrounding area. Chris Schoen, Greenstone’s managing principal, said $60 million is the minimum amount of private development needed to make payments on the renewal agency’s loan, assuming all the other pieces, including rent payments from the Hawks, a minor-league soccer team and other tenants, as well as events such as concerts, fall into place.

But Schoen expects the total private investment in the new district will be substantially more, perhaps up to $200 million.

Obviously, that would be a huge difference. By my calculations, $60 million of taxable property value would generate close to $1 million of tax money every year. So $200 million would generate more than $3 million.

Finally, down in Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service has unveiled a draft Environmental Assessment regarding a proposed Overnight Visitors Use Management Plan for Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen. According to the Aspen Times the plan would curb the number of campers allowed in five overtaxed portions of the wilderness (including Conundrum Hot Springs, Snowmass Lake, Capitol Lake and Crater Lake) to ensure the landscape and wildlife are less impacted going ahead:

“It’s not surprising that more than one zone in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is exceeding its overnight capacity based on our data trends,” said Aspen District Ranger Karen Schroyer. “What the analysis revealed will be useful as we continue to collect public comment and identify our decision space when it comes to potential implementation options.”

The Forest Service is looking into various ways to issue permit. One method would be using an online reservation system, which would include an administrative fee on top of a camping fee. An alternative would be issuing permits out of a local office at no fee. A third option would be to create a Special Recreation Permit that would generate revenues that could be used in the wilderness area for management expenses.

The agency said its initial public outreach shows support for managing overnight use.

“We saw a lot of comments in support of the proposed plan and in support of protecting the natural resources from impacts of overnight use,” said Kay Hopkins, recreation planner for the White River National Forest.

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