Filling gaps between UI, downtown

A developer hopes to build townhouses and a four-story multi-family building on this property near the intersection of Sixth Street and Deakin Avenue in Moscow.

A mixed-use development project that has been in the making for 14 years may soon come to fruition between the University of Idaho and downtown Moscow.

Jim Stephens of J&S Holding Company, LLC in Hayden, Idaho, is proposing 27 single-family townhouse dwellings, a four-story multi-family residential building and commercial businesses on a 2.5-acre property north of the Sixth Street and Deakin Avenue intersection, near Patty’s Mexican Kitchen and Catering.

Stephens, who lived eight years in Moscow and Pullman before moving to Hayden one and a half years ago, said the residential building would comprise an enclosed parking garage with 18 parking spaces on the first floor and 18 units — two two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units — on each of the top three floors.

The commercial buildings, which could also include residential units, would be constructed on the Sixth Street frontage, Stephens said. He said he does not know which businesses would be constructed and that they would be the last structures built on the property.

“We’re between the university and downtown, and so what we’re trying to do is have a development that bridges town with gown,” Stephens said.

The Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall to consider the proposed preliminary subdivision plat, planned unit development and rezoning of the property. The commission’s recommendations will be forwarded to the Moscow City Council.

Stephens said he plans to construct the project, called Gateway on Sixth Addition, in phases so it would take at least a couple years to complete. He said he hopes to start construction this fall and have units available for occupancy next summer.

Stephens said the buildings will have upscale designs that match downtown and the university.

“We’re trying to make sure that instead of just having the run-of-the-mill university apartments that we’re providing something that nobody’s provided,” he said.

The property is vacant except for two parking lots and an access drive on the northeastern portion of the site, according to the Planning and Zoning Commission packet for Wednesday’s meeting.

The property is designated as Urban Mixed.

According to the packet, Urban Mixed designated areas “are intended to provide for the infill development and adaptive re-use of areas that surround downtown. Within these areas, a mix of residential and limited commercial uses should be promoted through the development of small urban apartments, townhomes, and two- to three-story vertically mixed-use buildings. The urban mixed area should provide a pedestrian connection between the University of Idaho and downtown, and provide space for a variety of housing alternatives, niche retail, restaurants, artist studios, and personal and professional services. Off-street parking should be required, but the requirements should be reduced in this area due to the likely number of non-motorized travel the uses will attract.”

Stephens’ plan calls for 106 parking spaces — 18 in the parking garage and 88 in the two existing parking lots — which is more than the 80 spaces required for the proposed planned unit development, according to the packet.

Moscow City Councilor Art Bettge said the project sounds like a good idea on its surface. He said he had not read the project details yet.

“It represents a use of otherwise non-occupied territory land and represents a good opportunity for infill to prevent sprawl on the outskirts,” Bettge said. “And in addition, its location between downtown and the university is really advantageous, too.”

He said some have voiced concerns about insufficient parking regarding recent residential developments near downtown, and that could be the case for this project.

“I think the biggest bugaboo on this one is going to be parking,” Bettge said.

Parks and Recreation Director Dwight Curtis said Tuesday that a pathway through Ghormley Park, which is on the west side of Stephens’ property, is proposed as part of parkland dedication for the development project.

Curtis said the pathway would start near the Sixth Street and Deakin Avenue intersection and terminate at the Ghormley Park parking lot.

He said the developer and the city would fund the first portion of the pathway from Sixth Street and the city would fund the second phase from the end of the first part of the pathway to the parking lot. Curtis said the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency would likely contribute funding to the project. He said he is unsure how much the entire project would cost.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631 or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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