With construction season drawing to a close, developers already have their minds set on turning vacant lots and old buildings in Moscow into productive uses of land next year and the years following.
Moscow Community Development Director Bill Belknap said a Sonic Drive-In, the fast food chain, could be constructed as soon as next year on the northeast corner of the Rosauers parking lot on North Main Street. Belknap said the building plans are being finalized and estimated that construction would start and finish sometime next year.
He and others listed at least six other sites with projects underway or ripe to start.
The Identity on Main development on South Main Street between Sweet Avenue and state Highway 8, Belknap said, is expected to be finished next summer before University of Idaho students return for fall semester 2018. The project includes multi-family residential units and a commercial retail building with three tenant spaces.
The Identity apartments will fill a huge need, said Robb Parish, Moscow City Council candidate and Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission member, being close to the UI.
“It really makes for a walkable kind of facility that is easy to get to and from campus,” Parish said.
The Sangria Downtown LLC mixed-use building on the southwest corner of Sixth and Jackson streets is expected to break ground as soon as the weather allows next year, Belknap said.
He estimated apartment construction on a vacant lot on Farm Road near A Street to start in the spring.
Three more locations
Other land that could be developed in the next couple of years includes the vacant Old Dumas Seed Site on the corner of A and Almon streets; the area just northeast of the U.S. Highway 95-Highway 8 intersection; and the southeast corner of the same highway intersection, Belknap said.
Noel Blum, founder of Blum Construction LLC, recently purchased the A and Almon streets lot and is in the planning stages for development, Belknap said, and he believes the property will be largely residential with construction to start in the next year or two. He said Blum is considering designating the smokestack on the property for commercial use.
“That’s a good location between campus and downtown where it will probably promote less automobile traffic,” said Mike Ray, assistant community development director and planning manager.
Garrett Thompson, Thompson Development LLC managing member, told Moscow Urban Renewal Agency commissioners in August that he plans to demolish the car wash, commercial building and single-family residence on the northeast corner of the south couplet at Highway 8.
Thompson said Thompson Development is under contract to purchase three properties addressed as 213 and 225 Spotswood streets and 222 Troy Road. Belknap said the properties have not been purchased yet, but estimated redevelopment to start in the next year or so.
Steve Vachon, a local contractor and the owner of the property on the southeast corner of the south couplet, is still exploring his options, Belknap said, noting that Vachon has explored remodeling the former Stubbs Seed Warehouse on the property for commercial use.
Belknap said Vachon is waiting for the Identity project to finish before actively marketing the property. He said there could be movement on the site as soon as next year.
Multi-family still strong
Ray said apartment construction varies from year-to-year in Moscow but construction of multi-family units has been strong in Moscow the past decade.
“You’d think that at some point multi-family would kind of reach the top of the curve but it seems like there’s just been a continuing demand,” Ray said.
He said Moscow apartments tend to have fairly low vacancy rates partly due to lingering effects of the Great Recession, which started a decade ago.
Some people who may have resided in a home before the recession now choose to lease an apartment, duplex or single-family home, Ray said.
He said developers have focused on building studio apartments for college students the last few years but, while that is still the focus, they have also turned their attention to multi-bedroom units due to many families choosing apartments over home ownership.
Look for redevelopment
While vacant lots are limited in Moscow, Ray said he expects to see more redevelopment of existing structures. Ray said there are a number of buildings beyond their lifespan so he expects to see them demolished and replaced with new buildings.
The Legacy Crossing Urban Renewal District has a lot of land that can be developed as do the parking lots at Palouse Mall and Eastside Marketplace, Ray said.
Parish said redeveloping the former Cadillac Jack’s night club building on North Main Street into a music conservatory, which New Saint Andrews College plans to do, could lead the downtown core to expand a couple of blocks to the north.
The CJ’s development may encourage further development in that area down the road, which is a positive thing, Parish said.