Grove Hotel hopes to amp up signage

Don L. Day

The trend toward more and bigger signs in Downtown Boise continues -- this time with a push by the owners of the Grove Hotel and CenturyLink Arena to attach much larger signs to their building.

The hotel, which was one of the first buildings to crowd the line of sight from the Boise Depot to the Statehouse, has requested a variance for a set of bigger signs on many facets of the building.

"Our businesses struggle with visitors and local residents alike complaining that they are unable to locate the businesses and/or differentiate the buildings from others in the area," Block 22 president John Cunningham wrote in a letter to Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission.

He said the inability to locate the hotel is the number one complaint from visitors. He also notes that when the hotel was built, its location at Front & Capitol was easy to describe as "being on the Grove," but in ensuing years, many buildings have popped up which crowd out the hotel and arena complex.

Boise's skyline has seen a proliferation of large, lit signs atop buildings in the past few years. A large new logo for CenturyLink now sits atop One Capital Center, and the 8th & Main Building is lit up like a commercial Christmas tree with Zions Bank logos.

Block 22 would like to add three signs to the hotel side of the building - two at street level on either side of the River Sculpture art (aka, The Crack), and another high atop the building at skyline level.

On the Grove side, a "CenturyLink Arena" logo would be added atop the building to sit above the new skybridge that is planned to be constructed around the face of the building this winter. They skybridge will connect the existing Boise Centre building with the expanded facility under construction by Gardner Co. presently.  The sign would replace an existing "Sports Zone" neon that will be removed for construction of the bridge.

The new hotel signs are in violation of the City of Boise's Capitol Blvd. Sign Ordinance, and will need a waiver. The city has been working for decades to rid the Capitol Blvd. corridor of gaudy signs, mostly south of the river - removing billboards, a large electronic Boise State sign like the one on Broadway and pole signs.  Recently, one of the last holdouts - Elmer's Pancake & Steakhouse traded a pole-mounted sign for a smaller monument. These new signs would seem to go against those goals.

A crowd is set to join The Grove's market - with the new Residence Inn by Marriott and Inn at 500 Capitol just blocks away - and a new Hyatt Place Hotel on the other side of downtown.

A public hearing is set for city hall on August 10th.