BOISE -- Lit up at night, the building at 8th and Main is perhaps now the most noticeable piece of Boise's skyline. The final construction phases are underway, with the building set to open for business January 15, and with a grand opening celebration planned for sometime in February.
Building construction running right on schedule
"On the construction side of things, we're right on schedule. It's very busy. The entire tenant improvements and the whole building are happening at the same time, so everybody's a little anxious, but we've got plenty of time left with about two and a half months until go live time," said Tommy Ahlquist, the COO of the Gardner Company.
On the top floor, Ahlquist showed KTVB the building's huge inner workings that are almost ready to go.
"There's this term that the construction folks use that the building kind of comes to life when they turn on all of the systems," Ahlquist said. "So all of the pipes, all of the HVAC comes on in the next few weeks, so that's a big time for us, where the building kind of takes that deep breath and comes alive mechanically."
On the building's exterior, there is still work to be done on the lower levels, and Ahlquist says only around half of the lights are on right now.
Mayor's office taking some complaints about building's design
Now that the outside of the building is more noticeable, the mayor's office has taken some complaints. KTVB obtained 10 sent recently by phone message or email.
Many of those complaints have to do with the spire on top of the building. Here are portions of those complaints and comments asking for a change:
"The way it lights up at night, the height of the spire, all make it look churchy rather than like interesting architecture."
"I’ve heard many, many people complaining about the spire on top, how it’s like the temple on Cole Rd. and the freeway. Can it be changed to be more attractive and not so much like a church?"
"I hope there is some way of convincing them to remove [the spire], and leave the building without a "topping" of any kind. Such a permanent structure deserves more careful scrutiny."
"My concern is that it is clearly representative of an LDS Temple. I have full respect for the LDS tradition, none the less I believe that Boise's downtown skyline should be reflective of the diversity of our community."
"I am furious about the spire atop the new building at 8th and Main. I would really like to know who approved it? And the light shining on it at night even infuriates me more, and the fact that it faces east is all the more proof as to the intent. I'm a Catholic, and you mark my word, all hell would break loose if there were a cross on top of that building."
"Mr. Mayor, Have you seen what's on top of the new Zion's bank building? It's a Mormon temple. That was not part of the original plan or design sketches. I strenuously object."
"I too am very upset about the spire on top of the new bank building. It looks like we have a LDS temple downtown. It offends me."
A couple of people commented they thought it looked like an obscene gesture:
"When we were driving, and I noticed that for the first time, I said it looks like somebody is giving you the finger off the top of that building. So, yes I want to complain that it looks like somebody is giving you the finger."
One person was concerned about how the view of the annual U.S. Bank Christmas tree might be obscured:
"During Christmas season the bank building’s display of the traditional Christmas tree will be obscured & from where I live just above Hill Rd., the current bright flood lights also will most certainly ruin the nice effect of the seasonal tree. My take: They pulled a quick one on us and it should be taken down immediately. It’s rubbish that they didn’t know exactly what they were doing."
Developer: Building spire isn't modeled after anything specific
Ahlquist was aware of the handful of complaints, but says the overwhelming majority of feedback he's received has been very positive. Additionally, he says the building and its spire are not supposed to look like anything specific: temple or otherwise.
"In the initial design, there was not a spire on the building. Design review at Boise city actually asked us to come back with something that was more substantial on the corner. So when that request was made, we came back with a spire, which is found on multiple buildings around the United States. It's found on lots of iconic buildings, so we never had any idea that that would come up, that it would like anything else, other than a spire on what we think is the landmark building in Boise, Idaho," Ahlquist said.
Ahlquist says nothing tends to surprise him anymore, including the recent comments about the building's architecture. He says there are no plans to make any changes, and he hopes people will wait until they are totally done with construction to evaluate.
"We want to finish the building first. Get it finished, get all of the uses here, get all of the excitement and vitality that's going to come downtown because of this building and let's see what it looks like first before we overreact to any comments about any parts of the architecture. We're just still finishing up," Ahlquist said.
8th and Main almost all leased, U.S. Bank could soon see renovations
Less than two floors remain available for lease at this point, and all restaurant space is taken. Four restaurants will be in the building as well as a 9,000 square foot high-end spa and gym, owned by a Sun Valley company.
The Gardner Company also recently acquired the U.S. Bank building and will be announcing plans soon for renovations and redevelopment of that building and the acre of land it sits on.