BOISE — Owners of a new 18-story building in downtown Boise say they are considering ways to alter the appearance of a spire at its top because of concerns it makes the nearly completed structure look like a Mormon temple.
Tommy Ahlquist, chief operating officer for real-estate firm Gardner Co., said that proposed changes include glass surfaces and colored lights.
The mayor’s office has received three complaints about the appearance of the building, and comments on social media have also cited a possible religious influence.
“The number of concerns just began to grow,” Ahlquist said. “I think you gave people a voice to say, ‘Hey, we have some concerns about what this looks like,’ and the religious influence that they felt might have been part of the design. And nothing could be further from the truth for us internally.
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“We were just almost shocked initially, but as the week went on, we thought, ‘You know, we need to do something to tone that down.’ ”
Ahlquist said the new designs will be submitted to the city. He says the changes won’t require approval from the city’s Design Review Committee.
About a quarter of Idaho’s residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Ahlquist said many leaders at Utah-based Gardner Co. are also church members.
Ahlquist, who’s Mormon, said that other small changes have been made to the building after construction started and that designers are excited about new ideas and feedback leading to the most recent change.
“The (community) opinions are very strong, and we want to listen to that,” he said. “
Groundbreaking for the building took place in July 2012 at a spot that had been empty for a quarter-century and was jokingly called “The Hole” by locals.
Officials said tenants have already signed leases for most of the building’s office space. The building is scheduled to open in January.