UI unveils concepts for Boyer Avenue site

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SANDPOINT — University of Idaho architecture students are taking a hand in determining the future of the school’s Extension site on Boyer Avenue.

As university officials contemplate the future of the property, they challenged their architecture seniors to draft concepts that could help determine the site’s future. Professors and students alike will be on hand at City Hall today to explain those concepts in detail. The meeting begins 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers.

“The purposes of the presentations tomorrow are to show community members possible uses for the property and for the university and city to get feedback from people about what they might like to see in their community,” University of Idaho architecture professor Anne Marshall said.

A collaboration between the classes of Marshall and landscape architecture professor Gary Austin, the project brought together an impressive collection of students. Thirty-five seniors split into eight groups in order to handle the assignment’s full scope.

“They’ve definitely had to do a lot of work in a short period of time,” Marshall said.

Originally proposed to be an extensive satellite campus for the University of Idaho, the school’s officials were forced to reevaluate plans when they lost funding for the project. Since then, a variety of proposals have come up for the site. The University of Idaho architecture and landscape architecture seniors buckled down to turn those various visions into detailed concepts.

“We focused on the development of the site as a whole and how it relates to the rest of Sandpoint,” Marshall said.

One possible route is affordable housing, Marshall said. With rent rates or mortgage payments often outclassing the average income, the site could be a building location for reasonably priced residential units or micro-houses — very small, prefabricated housing units.

A satellite campus is also still a possibility. While it wouldn’t likely be on the same scale as previous plans, a smaller facility could still bolster local higher education opportunities.

Finally the property has potential for recreational facilities.

Marshall said multi-use trails for hiking or cross-country skiing, an expanded disc golf course, access to Sand Creek and a recreation center have all been considered in the conceptual work.

Project participants coordinated with City Planner Jeremy Grimm to ensure that their work fell in line with the principles of city code and long-term community planning.

“When we spoke to him, he told us that student projects have really influenced Sandpoint’s development,” Marshall said.

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