A proposed four-story building in downtown Meridian has been delayed and reduced to three stories — changes spurred by rising construction costs.

Property owner Josh Evarts had hoped to get construction started in June on the new Main & Broadway building. He and his wife, Lori, have sold their home with plans to live on the top floor.

But with “enormous amounts” of construction going on in Boise and Meridian, subcontractors are in low supply and high demand, which has driven up labor costs, Evarts said. Projects that got delayed because of the harsh winter, he added, only made the shortage worse.

The new plan is to start construction in March, with a goal to finish by fall, Evarts said. Wright Brothers Building Co. is the builder.

The Evarts still plan to live on the top floor, but the building will have only one residential unit instead of two. Josh Evarts envisions four more residential units during phase two of construction on the building next door.

“Until we get more density of people living in downtown Meridian, it’s really, really tough to make a lot of the retail numbers work,” he said.

The first phase is at 703 N. Main St., the former Treasure Valley Children's Theater, and the second phase, not expected until 2019, is at 713 N. Main St., where the unBound library branch is.

Along with a top floor housing unit, the Main & Broadway building will likely have a restaurant on the bottom floor and office or retail space on the second floor. 

Starting the project in June would have cost 30 to 40 percent higher than anticipated, Evarts said. He expects March to be a better time of year to go out for bids.

“We have to get this right, we don’t have to get this fast,” he said. “In downtown Meridian, we just can’t get the numbers wrong and then hope that we can make those numbers back by increased rents for tenants.”

BACKGROUND

Evarts is collaborating with the Meridian Development Corporation, the urban renewal agency, to redevelop these two Main Street properties. The corporation agreed to give him the properties in accordance with his development plan.

The agency leased the buildings to the children's theater and Meridian Library District for $12 a year each. The theater now operates out of New Ventures Lab down the street while it raises money for a building fund.

The library district will continue to operate unBound on Main Street for the time being. 

“We’re keeping our eyes and our minds open as we work through all of our District’s facility needs,” MLD Director Gretchen Caserotti said in an email.

NEW CIGAR SHOP

Evarts also owns the Heritage Building and the Vault in downtown Meridian. He opened the Vault last year as an event space, but is repurposing it as the Cigar Lounge, set to open Oct. 1 at 140 E. Idaho Avenue.

“Cigar Lounge is basically 1,000 square feet of really great leather chairs and high-end audio visual equipment,” Evarts said. There will be a walk-in humidor and varied selection of cigars for sale.

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