MERIDIAN, Idaho — This article was originally published by Autum Robertson in BoiseDev.
The Meridian City Council voted in favor of moving forward on a mixed-use project.
Last year BoiseDev reported that the Meridian Development Corporation, or MDC, announced it was looking for mixed-use projects from developers for the Civic Block – land owned by both MDC and the City of Meridian.
The land at E. Idaho Ave. and 226 E. Broadway Ave holds five parcels, including Centennial Park, the Meridian Community Center, and a parking lot. Groups who sent in proposals could choose to include a new community center or not.
Back in December, in a joint meeting between the MDC Board of Commissioners and the Meridian City Council, they voted to award the Civic Block RFP to the River Caddis Development team.
Earlier this week, city council voted to direct the city clerk to establish and notice a public hearing to review the proposed transfer of the property to MDC. This moves the project one step closer to being built. Voting in favor were council members Liz Strader, Treg Bernt, Jessica Perreault, and Brad Hoaglun. Councilmembers Joe Borton abstained and council member Luke Cavener voted no.
Cavener talked about how he could not vote in favor of the project as there is no plan in place for a community center and citizens are losing a park.
“It’s frustrating for me because I think a great project is being overshadowed by a loss to our community,” he said. “I think that either the city or the development team have an obligation to our citizens to bring a plan, either collectively or on their own, that communicates to our citizens what our plan is for a community center and a Park in downtown. And until we’ve got that plan in place, or at least some direction about where we’re headed, I can’t in good conscience vote for to begin the process to transfer assets.”
The community center will be demolished, but not before River Caddis closes on the property. A representative of the project said they are looking around for homes for the classes that are currently being held at the community center.
The preliminary plans for the River Caddis project show an addition of open space. Right now with Centennial Park, there is 19,638 square feet of open space.
River Caddis is proposing about 72,400 square feet of open space, including turning 2nd Street into a Festival Street, adding a 1,800 square foot corner plaza, and the 44,000 square foot U93 Event Plaza near the large Union 93 mixed-use project.
However, in a previous meeting, Cavener questioned if this was really giving the public additional open space.
“I have talked to some residents in downtown and I’ll just I’ll share with you a comment that I heard over the weekend that has really resonated with me, which is that Meridian downtown residents are losing their park so that apartments with a pool and a hot tub can be built,” he said. “And I think our downtown residents deserve better than that. “
The project includes the festival street, the public plaza, an apartment complex with a pool, hot tub, rooftop amenities, 100 public parking spaces, and commercial elements. Still on the property are unBound and Compass.
“ I just appreciate the effort that’s gone forth by this team,” council president Hoaglun said. “I’ve been privileged to be part of the meetings that we have every other week early morning, and discussing the project, discussing the challenges, and how they’re going about things here. They’re doing an excellent job. They’ve listened to a lot of people.”
River Caddis’ next step is a public open house in June and a city council public hearing in June or July. The preliminary timeline also includes plans for permitting and design in fall/ winter this year and throughout the years of 2023 and 2024 plans for construction and the grand opening.
The property is in an urban renewal district, and it’s within the Meridian Opportunity Zone. Both help with taxes and funding of the development, to learn more about opportunity zones click here.
Correction: The article was updated to properly reflect the city council’s decision. A previous version stated the council had voted to transfer the land this will not happen until a public hearing is held.