7/28/05, Idaho Statesman; Eagle Developer Looks to New ‘Classic’ Building

Eagle developer looks to new ‘classic’ building
Mark Butler helps others navigate Eagle’s strict design standards
By Michelle Cork, Our Towns

Mark Butler doesn’t expect to get a lot of work done in his new office once it’s finished. He’ll be too busy enjoying it.

His company, Land Consultants Inc., will occupy half of the second floor of the R.L. Butler Building he’s constructing at State Street and Winding Creek Drive in Eagle.

The Queen Anne-style building — which will boast doors with etched glass, walnut floors and railings, a chandelier in the entry, and four clay chimney pots right out of the movie "Mary Poppins" — is unique to Eagle. But the late 1800s/early 1900s architecture style remains true to Eagle’s strict design standards, many of which Butler helped to write in 1999, when he was the city’s zoning administrator.

Ron Bath, a fellow developer and member of the Eagle Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, says Butler has a knack for thinking outside the box while adhering to the guidelines designed to protect the integrity of the city.

"We do a lot of reading and a lot of studying of things that are outside of this area and apply them to this area," Bath says. "His perception is almost always accurate in terms of anticipating the future."

Butler can’t wait to sit in front of the fireplace in his new office or on its balcony. "I like the multiple design elements of the exterior — the steep, pitched roof, the walls and the porch," he says.

Land Consultants Inc. will share the second floor with an as-yet-unnamed professional office. Butler wants to lease at least half of the first floor to a breakfast eatery to give residents who will live in Bath’s Winding Creek Development, now under construction behind the Butler Building, someplace to go.

Butler worked for the city for five years, and remains committed to the original purpose of updating the design guidelines. "The whole intent was to bring pedestrian traffic downtown," the former planner in Nevada explains. He’s a member of the chamber board and chairman of the Eagle Fun Days planning committee. "If you can live downtown, play downtown, work downtown you can limit vehicle trips."

He acknowledges the changes haven’t been popular with everyone. "I think a lot of them have accepted it," he says. "It’s come further since 1999, but there’s still some who have trouble swallowing the ‘Eagle pill,’ so to speak."

His company, LCI, specializes in helping developers and landowners navigate the planning and zoning departments of Eagle and cities throughout the Treasure Valley.

Butler’s personal test of Eagle’s standards came when he bought the former Nazarene church at the corner of State and 2nd streets. That building was the first of several downtown properties that he’s bought and redeveloped.

He and his wife Linda remodeled the church, widened the sidewalks and planted trees. They initially rented it out, but a couple of years ago Linda opened a shop she says fits their vision of what downtown Eagle should be. It’s now a consignment and home accessories store called 2nd Avenue Inc.

"We want to see (in) the downtown more quaint little shops," Linda says. "I want to see something different happen." The Butlers did a lot of research into the area, its climate and comprehensive plan before they moved to Eagle from Boulder City, Nev., in 1994. But Linda had never visited before they packed up two kids and the family dog in the car and set out for Idaho.

"He didn’t have a job, we hadn’t sold our house, so we had sort of taken a leap," she says. But Mark says there are no regrets. "I love this place. … We weren’t looking for a place to work, we were looking for a place to live."

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