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City of Boise gets involved in Union Block building repairs following missed deadline

Union Block Building shut down after being deemed too dangerous for occupancy
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 07, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is getting involved with the repair process of the Union Block building in downtown Boise after construction deadlines have passed and inspections have not been completed.

Idaho News 6 has received the letter sent by Boise Building Official Jason Blias to Ken Howell, the Union Block Owner. The letter details the project deadlines missed after a 120 day extension to the project.

In the letter, Blias also expresses concerns about ongoing work at the building that is being done without the proper inspections from city officials or reviews by structural engineers assigned to the project.

The news follows the city's condemnation of the property back in November 2023. At that time, the owners were given 30 days to develop a plan to make repairs to the structure.

RELATED | Stay away from the Union Block building!

One key facet of the necessary repairs to the building is adding support to the front of the building following the excavation of the basement. Despite requests from the city, Blias's letter states that Howell has not installed necessary framing to support the building and other plans for the building have not been approved by the city.

“Currently, there is no updated approved structural design for this (the front basement structural lateral design). Because of inaction on this issue, and in consideration of public safety concerns, the city has elected to pursue the design and repairs, at your expense, as authorized by Boise City Code and contemplated under the façade easement held by the city. Due to your inaction, these repairs have remained incomplete despite having been granted a 120-day extension,” Blais wrote.

And these repairs to the front of the building aren't the only thing that the city could make at the owner's expense. According to the letter, other outstanding pieces of the project have just 30 days to be completed or the city could take over that work at Howell's expense as well.

“Lastly, the city is granting you an additional 30 days to complete the other outstanding work items and receive approval for such work from the building division,” wrote Blais. “This extension does not include the aforementioned front basement lateral design and repair. If the outstanding work is not completed by July 6, 2024, then the city may elect to complete the remaining work at your expense.”

In legal documents obtained by Idaho News 6, the owner of Union Block Building, Ken Howell, argues that the city's notices failed to specify which conditions violated the Boise code. Howell also contends the city lacked sufficient evidence for condemning the building, and prematurely closed the building before receiving information from his structural engineer.

Meanwhile, one of the businesses dislocated from the building, Moon's Kitchen, has found a new home just a couple blocks away. Son of Moon's Kitchen owner, Braydon Torrey, tells Idaho News 6 that they have nearly doubled their revenue in their new location. "Oh we love it, there’s windows all around, it's so much nicer than our old location…and everything works! So it's nice,” says Torrey.