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851 W. Front St., #508; Built in 2009; 590 Square Feet; 1 Bed/1 Bath 


The Aspen Lofts

Beth Greg, 208-850-1425


MLS #98378478

In November, Idaho Smart Growth handed out nine 2008 Grow Smart Awards to six building projects, one public-planning policy overhaul, one advocacy program and one individual that, together, have strived to put shoe leather on ideals like keeping communities vibrant and lands healthy through the use of Smart Growth principles. Among the winners located throughout the state is a trio of local projects that will be reviewed here in a three-part series.

First up is a winner in the Infill category. The Aspen Lofts building was recognized for its tiny footprint on a slender downtown lot that utilizes existing sewer, water and transportation. The sliver of land that the 75-unit, 17-story condominium building sits on is 178 feet wide by 33 feet deep, making it about as wide as a small city block and about as deep as three automobiles parked bumper to bumper.

Since earthmoving began in April 2007, a lot of buzz has surrounded the mixed-use high-rise. Locals and visitors alike have marveled at the narrowness of the tall glass-and-steel structure, which seems impossibly attached to the side of an existing parking garage in downtown Boise's BoDo district. When completed, the Aspen building will feature retail shops at street level, office space on the second floor, private parking on its third and fourth stories and private residences on floors five through 17.

Builder Scott Kimball didn't want to give the downtown sector another edifice with a big flat glass face. The Aspen's tall, notched facade looks like a faceted emerald that is cantilevered over the sidewalk along Front Street to create a covered walkway.

As interesting as the view is from street level, the sights from inside range from very cool to breathtaking. The building's entire north wall is constructed of dual paned, Low-E glass to provide every resident with unbeatable views. Entry-level units ($169,000-$199,000) on the fifth floor have a downtown vista that includes the Capitol building and glimpses of the Boise Foothills between other city landmarks, while the 17th floor penthouses ($2 million-$4 million) provide a panoramic view of the city's skyline against a sweeping background composed entirely of the Foothills as they border Boise to the north.

Unit 508 is a one-bedroom/one-bathroom dwelling overlooking the intersection of Front and Ninth streets. As you enter, you face a bedroom doorway that has no door. To the right is a bathroom outfitted with a single vanity, an acrylic shower/bathtub combo and a Villeroy and Boch porcelain commode. The open kitchen and living room are located behind the bedroom. Cork flooring in the entryway and kitchen buffer sound, while dark-brown carpeting in the bedroom and living room cushions bare feet. The kitchen is outfitted with cherry cabinets stained the color of cinnamon and will have stainless steel appliances when it is completed next month. Walls throughout are painted the color of vanilla ice cream, and the trim is dark brown. The 590-square-foot space is cozy, but 10-foot ceilings and the cityscape views through the glass wall in the living room make the residence feel like it is part of a vibrant city center. From the Aspen Lofts, a variety of downtown restaurants, unique shops, the Saturday farmers' market, three movie theaters, hockey games and nightlife are all at your doorstep. If you work downtown or near Boise State, your job is just a short walk or a quick bicycle ride away.

Pros: Maintenance-free downtown lifestyle close to work, shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Cons: Parking space costs extra for entry-level units.

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