Their financing? Murky. Their provision of affordable housing? Skimpy. But their design? "Impetuous" and "visionary," according to the Capital City Development Corporation, which voted Monday in favor of Brix and Company's $58 million proposal to build a parking garage, retail and apartment complex at Eighth and River streets. In so doing the urban renewal agency took a pass on the designs of The Hosac Company, whose less exciting proposal would have provided twice the amount of affordable housing units--82 to BoDo developer Mark Rivers' 40--on the site owned by CCDC.
In successfully wooing the CCDC, BoDo developer Mark Rivers left no marketing stone unturned. In October he flew a delegation of city leaders to Salt Lake City, Utah, to talk about the library blocks proposal he hopes to develop in conjunction with the Eighth and River project.
"I'm not interested in building buildings, I'm interested in creating spaces," Rivers told the board. When pressed about the specifics of his proposal's costs--Ken Hosac contends Rivers has underbudgeted his project by about $5 million--Rivers told the group that "design is art, it's not a science." Those were the sort of comments that earned his original proposal to CCDC a less-than-glowing review when he submitted it in August. But because his design for the entire neighborhood was so overwhelming, CCDC board members said, they couldn't say no.
"I saw something in that area I had not seen before," said City Councilor David Eberle, who conceded he was "disappointed" in the BoDo developer's affordable housing plan.
CCDC director Phil Kushlan said the list of prerogatives in the agency's request for proposals, such as the provision of workforce housing and a commitment to sustainable design, were more "goals" than "requirements."
Although Hosac was clearly disappointed in getting passed over, and argued his point in letters, renderings and speeches, Hosac ultimately conceded the unanimous vote for Rivers.