CCDC

Free parking for motorcycles to offset ban in some garages

The Capital City Development Corporation changed its policy earlier this year to bar motorcycles from using the upper floors of the parking garages it owns in Downtown Boise.

The agency says there are "entry/exit issues with such small vehicles."

As an alternative, motorcycle riders can now park free of charge in special designated areas on the ground floor of two garages - the 9th & Main garage (formerly Eastman) and 9th and Front garage (formerly City Center).  CCDC upgraded lightning and paint, and added signage letting motorcyclists know of the option.

Parking staffers will be putting fliers on motorcycles who are parking in paid spaces that they should no longer do so. The aim of the literature is to let them know "while we appreciate their paid patronage, we'd rather they park in a safer, more convenient location within our system."

Header photo courtesy CCDC

Boise outlines vision for replacing Downtown library, adding arts, history & event space

Have you ever been to the downtown Boise Public Library and felt a bit like you were inside an old warehouse?

That's because... you were.

The library branch when it was Salt Lake Hardware Co. Photo courtesy City of Boise

The library branch when it was Salt Lake Hardware Co. Photo courtesy City of Boise

The City of Boise moved library services to the former Salt Lake Hardware Co. warehouse on Capitol Blvd. and Battery St. (now River St.) in 1973.  It replaced Boise's original Carnegie Library on Washington St. and has stood pretty much unchanged for the last 45 years or so.

Now Boise City leaders hope to raise that old warehouse and build a new library, arts and history campus on the site, facing the Boise River.

"We want a facility that connects the community," library director Kevin Booe said. "We want a place where people will come and do lots of different things."

The project, if approved and funded, would completely revamp the current site of the library, with the old hardware warehouse tumbling down, and a new complex rising up in its place.

City and library officials contracted with Safdie architects, which has designed libraries in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canda and Salt Lake City, Utah.  For Boise, the firm has turned in initial designs that are geared toward the Boise River and Greenbelt.

"We want a building that engages with the river," Booe said. "You can't even see the river from the (current) library. This concept faces the river. We would like a space where the indoors and the outdoors merge and it’s almost transparent."

That comes in the form of a large wall oriented south.

"(It features) a glass wall, they call it a lens," City of Boise Capital Projects Manager Shawn Wilson said. "This is (Safdie's) concept of how they are going to interface with the river and the riparian area of the Greenbelt. It provides a place to sit and watch - or sit and read."

Details

The project is envisioned to cost $80-$85 million, and would come from three sources: 

  • $5 million from the City of Boise capital fund
  • $18 million from philanthropic giving, half of which has already been raised
  • $10-$15 million from the Capital City Development Corporation to fund a parking garage
  • The balance would come from the City's bonding facility
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The building would be 150,000 square feet, with a 20,000 square foot outdoor plaza.  The building would have three main components:

  • 115,000 square foot library space
  • 22,000 square foot center for arts & history
  • 18,000 square foot event space, with seating for 300-400 people

Retail spaces for a gift shop, cafe and other library and arts-related concepts are also envisioned.

Two rooftop gardens are part of the current plan - one on top of the events space, and another on the arts & history section of the complex.

PRESS-BRIEFING-LIBCAMP_Page_04_preview.jpeg

Library would bulk up, expand

Right now, the Boise Public Library has about 350,000 items in its collection. Booe says he would like to see that grow to the million item mark, similar to cities like Salt Lake City, Utah and Des Moines, Iowa.

That would be accomplished with an automated storage retrieval system - a robot-like device that can snag items from a vault and deliver them in under five minutes.

"We could easily expand the collection size by another 400,000-500,000 items," Booe said

More from Don:
How to solve the local news crisis? Look it up in the library

Arts & History to get dedicated space

The City of Boise Department of Arts & History currently works out of a cramped space inside City Hall.  By moving down the street to the library site, it would be able to do more and give the public more access to its archives and programs.

Arts & History director Teri Schorzman says the Sesqui-shop on Main Street during Boise's sesquicentennial in 2013 was a test run for the concept.

"(The Sesqui-shop) was focused on local art and local history," she said. "That’s the goal for what we do in this space where we can continue that kind of programming."

The space would also provide a dedicated cultural education center, gallery space, the Boise city archives, a conservation lab, and space to maintain the city's growing art collection. It would also house current arts & history staff.

One historic item may go by the wayside, however. The plans currently show The Cabin being removed to make way for the new campus.

"The  Cabin may move," Outreach and Education Coordinator Jennifer Yribar said. "We are working with the Cabin's Executive Director and Board to find a sustainable solution for the organization that will allow the Cabin to maintain  their physical identity with minimal disruption to programs and services."

A new place for events Downtown

The city says its research shows there is a need for an events space in the Downtown core with room for 300-400 patrons. It would contrast with the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts which seats about 2,000 guests and the Egyptian Theater which seats about 760 people.

This "black box" style theater would include a stage, dressing rooms, VIP rooms, concessions, offices, technical areas and more.  It could be used for a variety of community and smaller-scale events and could complement Jack's Urban Meeting Place and facilities at the Boise Centre.

Existing library to be torn down

The old warehouse would be torn down if the current plan is followed. The library wouldn't close however, with two options being discussed.

"We could stay in the current four-story building while the library part of the campus is built," Booe said "then tear down the old building and complete the rest of the project."

Booe said the other idea is to relocate the library to another location downtown temporarily.

"We are looking at an analysis on the cost of that," he said. "Trustees and staff are adamant that the library continues to stay open, even if it is with a diminished service."

CCDC could help fund parking structure

In addition to the library, the parking structure could use funds from the Capital City Development Corporation to provide patrons of the library and other nearby properties parking.

“Our current parking lot is 102 spaces," Booe said. "The biggest complaint we get is, 'you don’t have enough parking.' Like it or not, people drive.  You need between 200-300 parking spaces. So that’s what we are planning to do."

 "That part of town could use a little help in that sense, and that goes beyond the library," City of Boise Director of Communications Mike Journee said, citing events across the street in Julia Davis Park, the new Idaho State Museum and growing activity in the River St. area.

CCDC is working to sell its garage under the Grove Hotel to raise some of the funds needed for the library garage project, as BoiseDev reported this spring.

What happens next

UPDATE: Boise City Council was given an update on the project today during budget workshops  

From there, it will go out to citizens for a series of public workshops. The tentative schedule

  • July 16 - Library! at Bown Crossing
  • July 17 - Library! at Cole & Ustick
  • July 18 - Library! at Collister
  • July 20 - Main Library

Another series is also planned for September after revisions are made based upon feedback collected next month.

"There may be some changes as we go along," Booe said. "We know we are going to have to do a lot of value engineering, and after we go through the concept, feedback with the public - we might have to make some changes based upon public feedback."

That value engineering is important - because the current concepts are estimated to cost well over $100 million.  The plans will have to be downsized to fit in the $80 to $85 million budget.

Officials say the project as it stands now has been molded by public input - including focus groups and design thinking exercises

"This is and was community built," Yribar said. "It’s the culmination of so much community visioning. We are going to council tomorrow to make sure we are going in the right direction to keep going, but really we are going to the public to get their reaction."

If a design can be finalized and funding secured, groundbreaking could happen as early as Fall 2019. If all goes as planned, the new facility could be open as early December 31, 2021. 

Even with a flurry of changes - one thing will stay the same. That famous exclamation point after the word library will continue on (!)

Latest downtown hotel gets name, park, CCDC funding

The room boom in Downtown Boise continues - with new milestones on a hotel project at 5th St. and Front St.

The project, put together by local developer Clay Carley and Madison, Wisc. based Raymond Group, will include a 140 room hotel and 600 space parking garage on a large parcel bound by Front St., 5th St, and 6th St.

The hotel will carry the Home2 Suites by Hilton brand Carley confirms. The Home2 brand is an all-suite hotel concept aimed at travelers who need to make extended stays.

The Capital City Development Corporation approved $1.478 million in funding for a raft of improvements surrounding the hotel - including utility work, pavers, street lights, benches, bike racks and the like. 

The project is expected to cost $43.25 million, and is on track for a late 2019 or early 2020 opening.  Carley will own and operate the parking garage while Raymond will do the same for the hotel portion of the project. The nearby Hampton Inn and Suites is also operated by the Raymond Group.

The hotel will feature an indoor pool area with features like geysers and a basketball hoop. A bar and lounge is also planned, with patio space along Front & 6th, with an indoor/outdoor fireplace.

A public plaza is set for the corner of Front and 6th, with a lawn area, brick pavers and trees.

The joint venture of Carley and Raymond is acquiring a so-called "remnant parcel" owned by CCDC that used to be the roadbed for Front St. before it was realigned more than 30 years ago. 

  • The group will pay the public agency a discounted rate of $300,000 - with the agreement that the hotel and garage must be built within three years. 
  • CCDC will then provide the $1.478 million in public dollars for the public improvements.
  • CCDC agrees to lease 200 spaces in the garage for $150 each per month - or a total of $360,000 per year.  CCDC will then resell those spaces.
Project Location Rooms Floors Announced opening Type
Inn at 500 Capitol Capitol & Myrtle 104 7 Open Boutique
Residence Inn by Marriott Capitol & Myrtle 186 10 Open Extended stay
Hyatt Place 10th & Bannock 152 5 Open Business
Hilton Garden Inn 13th & Front 132 5 Under Construction Business
Home2 Suites 5th & Front 140 6 Late 2019 Extended Stay

Analysis: Boise is about to add a lot more people. Buckle up

NEWS ANALYSIS

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It's probably hit your radar a few times this weekend: HuffPo's latest story titled America’s Housing Crisis Is Spreading To Smaller Cities with a shiny picture of the Boise skyline on the top.

The story sums up the blistering growth hitting the City of Trees, and the divides it has exposed: screaming matches over baseball stadiums, large income inequality gaps, and the death of a five-year-old living in a car at the Walmart parking lot.

It also drops a stunning stat: Boise could add 200,000 more people over the next seven or so years. (The story refers to this Wall Street Journal story from last year that makes the same claim but does not cite it).

The projection significantly outstrips the Idaho Department of Labor projection for the entire SW Idaho region - which estimates adding just 100,000 people by 2025.

SW Idaho population project

Courtesy Idaho Department of Labor

You say big potato. I say huge potato.  EIther way -- it's a growing potato.

HuffPo notes a few problems are starting to weave together to magnify the challenge: A lack of new homes being built and friction in government - local and state.

Cash needed, but no option

In March, I laid out the plan by Valley Regional Transit to massively expand the bus system in Ada and Canyon Counties. They make a compelling case the area needs better transit options. But the plan rests on raising taxes to fund the expansion with a local option tax vote.  That is currently banned by state law. This quote from my friend Dr. Jim Weatherby - the dean of Idaho political analysts - sticks in my head:

"There is little reason to believe that negative legislative attitudes toward a feared patchwork of new local taxes and rural hostility toward granting local option to Idaho’s larger cities will change any time soon," Weatherby said.

Idaho remains a fiscally conservative state, and lawmakers and other state leaders aren't interested in the idea of letting voters in Ada and Canyon Counties raise their own taxes.

VRT isn't the only group that would like some local option cash. In 2010, Boise Mayor David Bieter told Boise Weekly he liked the idea of local option taxes for his long-hoped-for streetcar plan. Even The Idaho Press-Tribune advocated for a LOT for a new jail in Canyon County.

A 2010 study by the Capital City Development Corporation on the streetcar outlined a way to push the local option option along:

The City of Boise and Valley Regional Transit should enlist the private sector to take the lead in collaborating with other cities, counties, chambers of commerce and other organizations in the Boise Valley to obtain a dedicated source of transit funding including an enabling statute allowing local option taxing authority.

Building up, or rising up

City leaders are pushing for more density and taller buildings in the Downtown Boise core. They are wrapped up in the 2011 version of Blueprint Boise - the document which guides development around the city.  This plan led Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission to say no to developer/city councilor/CCDC commissioner Scot Ludwig's plan for two tall towers connected by a skybridge because the area was not zoned for buildings that tall (among other concerns).  Ludwig has tweaked the plan and now his fellow elected officials on the Boise City Council will decide if the plan can proceed.

If Boise is going to add capacity for another 100,000 or 200,000 people - two things are going to have to happen: more homes are going to have to be built, and we are going to have to find the people to build them.  The HuffPost piece details how the 2008 market crash drove much of the construction sector under, and says in 2007 there were twice as many building permits being issued as in 2018.

Last year, a group of people rose up to fight a CVS pharmacy location with a drive-through on State St. that would have displaced low-income housing.  That effort grew into Vanishing Boise which is now fighting a multi-front battle over a mind-boggling array of development issues:

The City has responded with a few town halls and other events, but the tone of Vanishing Boise and its founder Lori Dicaire is feisty and fed up.  How representative the group is of the overall Boise public is hard to say and will be more apparent in the fall of 2019 when several city council seats and the mayorship is up for election.

Growth is a major issue in the most populous portion of the state, but has hardly come up in any of the recent debates for statewide and federal offices.

Growth won't stop

The idea that people will stop moving to Boise is at best far-fetched and worst delusional.  The Treasure Valley has many of the things folks from around the country only dream of. An argument can be made that state and local leaders could tamp down efforts to attract business or tourists or new residents - but a stagnant economy leads to its own set of problems.

The balance is tricky, and as a life-long Boise resident, I understand the frustration the problems growth bring.  We can't close the gates or build a wall and keep people from moving to Boise from California or Seattle or Texas or anywhere else.  Saying no to every development isn't going to help - in fact, it's going to drive rents and home prices even higher and increase the income inequality problem.  Boise - and the Treasure Valley as a whole - have to grow smart.

Right now there is conflict everywhere. Between citizens and city hall. Between city hall and the legislature. Between ACHD and city leaders. Between ACHD and citizens.

To grow smart, different constituencies are going to have to find ways to work together, compromise and deal with each other in a way that is open-minded and fair (less shouting, fewer secrets) - regardless of whether they are elected or not - or work at city hall or the Statehouse.

Without compromise, Boise is going to turn into a mighty unpleasant place.

(Header photo courtesy Jeremy Conant/Treefort Music Festival, CC BY 2.0)

Urban renewal agency highlights projects completed, in progress

The Capital City Development Corporation's annual report shows the projects it has wrapped up or is working on. The report gives a snapshot of all the projects underway throughout Downtown Boise - and how the agency's property tax dollars collected via tax increment financing are being used.

The report breaks the projects down into economic development, infrastructure, parking/mobility and placemaking.

Nearly every project has been covered on BoiseDev (the handy search function helps find anything!), but here's how the projects are touted in CCDC's report.

Economic Development

"Cultivate commerce and grow resilient, diversified and prosperous local economies." 

Infrastructure

"Improve public infrastructure to attract new investment and encourage best use of property"

Parking/Mobility

"Expanding mobility choices, improving infrastructure and encouraging innovation are imperative actions to making Boise competitive and equitable."

Placemaking

"Communicating with our stakeholders for guidance and buy-in helps build trust and a stronger community"

CCDC hopes to sell parking garage, build new one

The Capital City Development Corporation voted Monday to sell one if its parking garages.

Courtesy CCDC

Courtesy CCDC

The urban renewal agency wants to sell off the garage that sits under the Grove Hotel and Century Link Arena for at least $6.8 million.

“We fell like this is a good time to consider this disposition,” Todd Bunderson with CCDC said.

CCDC purchased the garage in 1998 for $5.2 million from Block 22, LLC which owns the building above it - and has managed it and collected parking revenue in the twenty years since.

The agency says the garage contributes a small amount of overall parking revenue - and it hopes to use money from the sale for a new project.  Funds could go toward building a new garage in the 8th Street area as part of a project to revamp the Boise Public Library complex.  CCDC says an appraiser set the value at $6.8 million - which is also the amount set aside for the potential new garage.

The agency set a process to pick a potential new owner:

  • Impact on current users of the garage
  • Proposal’s ability to advance economic vitality in downtown Boise
  • Parking Management Plan accommodating adjacent public and private development and the existing lease agreements
  • Experience and understanding of the downtown Boise business community
  • Experience in operating and owning a parking struck 
  • Purchase price
  • Financial ability
  • Ability to close in a timely manner

Only a few entities could satisfy all of these requirements - among them Gardner Co. which operates a garage next door in the Boise Centre West building. Block 22, LLC is also an obvious bidder, and investor JRS Properties is associated with the JR Simplot Co. and owns parking in its new headquarters building and at JUMP.

The garage could sale could happen and be finished by September, 2018.

"I love the idea of disposing this garage since we have fulfilled our mission in building it," CCDC chair Dana Zuckerman. "I want to make sure we do our job is not harm the hotel or arena - that's the last thing we want to do in selling this garage."

Zuckerman also raised listing the garage lower than the appraised rate at $6 million. CCDC staff advised against the idea and noted that starting the bidding at $6.8 million was the right way to structure the disposition.

"The needs are many, and they are coming at us," Boise Mayor and CCDC commissioner Bieter said. "The proceeds from this can go a long way to getting us where we need to go."

CCDC board member Ryan Woodings noted that the garage, with inflation, would be worth $8 million based on the $5.2 million paid in 1998.

Bollards and planters and light poles: 8th St. to get revamp ahead of 'sunset'

A snowman on the Juniper patio in December. No snow now! Photo: Don Day

A snowman on the Juniper patio in December. No snow now! Photo: Don Day

The Capital City Development Corporation created its Central District in 1986. The tax increment financing district was the first of its kind in Boise, and funneled any increase in property tax collections from schools, police and the like over the the CCDC for improvements and other projects to help increase those property values.

Now, the 30ish-year time horizon for the central district is about to terminate - or 'sunset' as CCDC is calling it.

Before sun goes over the horizon, the agency is working to close out projects and spend the final tax dollars.

A flurry of projects centered on 8th Street between Main and Bannock is planned for the next few months. Construction is set to start March 5th - earlier than planned due to the mild Boise winter. Work should be wrapped up by June 1. Here's what's planned:

  • Replacing dying or declining trees
  • Upgrading tree planter covers to meet ADA rules
  • Old light poles to be replaced with new models with LED lighting
  • Temporary bike racks to be removed and replaced with permanent  ones
  • The planters that were removed last year will be swapped out for new, smaller ones
    • Says CCDC: "After extensive research and design regarding options for urban flower planters in downtown Boise, flower planters are the appropriate choice instead of hanging planters."
  • Adjusting sidewalk corners to add visibility markings and better grade transition
  • Retractable bollards will be installed to make closing the street easier for events like the Capital City Public Market

CCDC is working with a bunch of partners like the City of Boise, Downtown Boise Association and others.  The urban renewal agency will turn over 8th St. to the City of Boise later this year.

What’s up on 8th Street? Tree removal and sewer work closure

Photo courtesy Steve Dunlap

Photo courtesy Steve Dunlap

The Capitol City Development Commission has closed down the two blocks of 8th Street it owns between Main and Bannock Streets.

The popular “restaurant row” area is being used for staging crews and materials for a sewer line upgrade downtown. 8th Street is being used to limit impacts to traffic on 9th Street and Capitol Blvd.  

Cyclists, pedestrians and delivery trucks can still use 8th - but regular traffic is off-limits.

Work is expected to wrap up on February 13th.

Separately, large white “X” markings have been spray painted on some trees along 8th. These trees have been determined to have reached the “end of their life” and will soon be removed.  

 “This is common practice that Community Forestry uses all over the City. Those trees will be replaced by CCDC during the 8th Street Project,” CCDC Property Manager Ben Houpt said  

CCDC is planning a number of changes and improvements to 8th Street and connecting alleys on the Idaho to Bannock block as the upcoming termination of the original urban renewal district approaches.  

This story came from a tip on the BoiseDev Facebook group. Join the community! 

Fewer lanes, no bike lanes & parking on Front & Myrtle? Consultant plan is just the start

Front Street & Myrtle Street run through the heart of Boise - part of a highway and freeway system that move cars into, out of and through Downtown.  But the roads present a literal barrier to those on foot - serving as a major dividing line in the Capitol City's heart.

Changes could be coming to those streets, but a consultant's ideas may be a tough sell.

BoiseDev was the first to report on the project to develop a set of plans to make Front St. and Myrtle St. as they run through Downtown more than just freeway offshoots.  Now, for the first time, the plan is revealed here to the public.

Sam Schwartz Consulting has turned in its Front and Myrtle Alternatives Analysis - which lays out the current situation and potential future of the two roads.

Front Street from above. Don Day/BoiseDev.com

Front Street from above. Don Day/BoiseDev.com

Front and Myrtle form a couplet - flowing off the Interstate-184 freeway and ending at Broadway Avenue.  The streets were a vital part of the early-90s era Broadway-Chinden Connector which remade east-west transit through the city core.  That project put a "freeway to freeway" connection right through Downtown Boise.

Each of the streets is controlled by the Idaho Transportation Department as state highways, and as such are not under the purview of the Capital City Development Corporation or City of Boise, or even the county-wide Ada County Highway District.

As we reported last year, the CCDC/City of Boise group went back and forth extensively with ITD over how the Alternatives Analysis, with the City and CCDC wanting an emphasis on “shift(ing) in focus away from moving cars with minimal delay,” while ITD lobbied for language that didn’t inconvenience auto drivers.

The analysis

Cover page of the Front & Myrtle Alternatives Analysis

Cover page of the Front & Myrtle Alternatives Analysis

The Schwartz team found that Front and Myrtle sliced through the Downtown street grid, and as “auto-centric” roads, they acted as a “physical and psychological barrier… for those walking and biking.”

Cars are currently allowed to go 35 MPH along the streets - typical for many surface roads, but outside the norm for the rest of the downtown street grid which features a 25 MPH limit.  Each road has five lanes - which when combined with high speeds can mean crossing north-to-south while on foot can mean long frustrating waits.

The Alternatives Analysis found that the roads actually have a surplus of capacity for cars - and suggests that it could be put to use to make the roads more friendly for those using bikes and their feet without causing major harm to drivers.

“(The) preferred alternative generally prioritizes strategies that reduce excess roadway capacity and vehicle speeds, aims to improve safety for all street users, and reduces north-south crossing distances,” the report notes.

Fewer lanes

Sam Schwartz Consulting graphic with BoiseDev overlay

Sam Schwartz Consulting graphic with BoiseDev overlay

The consulting team suggested cutting the roads from five lanes to three in spots - but mixing in segments that are four and five lanes as well - depending on the needs for each block.

Front St. would be cut from five lanes to four between Broadway & Capitol Blvd. It would jump back up to the current five lanes in the heart of downtown from Capitol to 9th St., then go back to four lanes from 9th until the mouth of the Connector at 13th St.

On Myrtle, five lanes would stay in place from the end of the Connector and 11th St.  Then it would drop to four lanes until Capitol.  Then, the current five-lane road would three lanes all the way to Broadway - though some turn lanes would be mixed in on this stretch.

Schwartz’s team says traffic on the two streets will continue to worsen over time even if nothing is done - but concluded “the differences in traffic operational impacts between the future ‘no-build’ scenario and the preferred alternative designs are modest compared to the benefits provided. “

Vince Trimboli, Idaho Transportation Department Public Affairs Manager said that concept will be a difficult one.

“The Connector coming in and out of town is a freeway to freeway connection,” he said. “The three middle lanes move traffic through, the outer two lanes get people on and off.”

By cutting down to three lanes in even a portion of the road - it could cause problems.

“If you… squeeze your traffic down to one lane essentially, you could potentially create safety and mobility concerns by just backing traffic up,” Trimboli said.

While the Alternatives Analysis primarily focused on the roads as they exist as part of Downtown Boise, Trimboli said many users have to be considered for a portion of the state highway network.

“We want to make sure we take a more balanced or wholistic approach - that is the best for the City of Boise, for their pedestrians, (and) people all over the Valley and around the state.”

The City of Boise did not respond to requests for comment.

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Bike lanes? No. Parking? Yes.

Taking out lanes would free up room for other uses - but in what will come as a surprise to some, one of those suggestions isn’t new or expanded bike lanes.

“Bicycle facilities were generally not favored by the project team, as parallel facilities along Main and Idaho are currently under consideration,” the report said.

Bike lanes on Main and Idaho have been hotly contested and were even briefly installed - but for now, remain absent on these adjacent streets.

Instead, extra wide sidewalks and car parking would be slotted in along the the two highway roads.

Sam Schwartz Consulting graphic. Click to enlarge

For instance, at Capitol and Myrtle, the Alternatives Analysis suggests removing the existing shoulders (which are used by some as bike lanes) and extending the sidewalks.  Near Trader Joe’s, where a lane is suggested to be removed, the sidewalk would be vastly expanded at the corner with a place for bike parking - and a row of new on-street parking for cars.

On the three-lane stretch of Myrtle St. that runs near Julia Davis Park, two lanes could be removed, and replaced with tree-lined sidewalks as well as parking for both cars and bikes.

Get this crosswalk party started

Sam Schwartz Consulting graphic.

Sam Schwartz Consulting graphic.

Four new stoplights and three additional crosswalk legs could be added on the couplet if the suggested plan were to be fully adopted.

On Myrtle Street, stoplights and pedestrian crossings are suggested at both 5th Street and Avenue A.  

In the case of Avenue A, adding crosswalks here would cut down the nearly half-a-mile stretch between 3rd Street and Broadway that provides no way for bikes or those on foot to cross Myrtle.  A new light at 5th Street would help connect downtown to a new pedestrian path that links to Julia Davis Park.

For Front St., new stoplights could be added at 10th Street and 12th Street.  The 10th Street light would give pedestrians easier access to JUMP and the Simplot headquarters.  

New west side crosswalk “legs” could be added to existing crossings at Ave. A, 2nd Street and Capitol Blvd.  Right now those intersections only have crosswalks on the east side due to turning traffic and potential conflicts.

ALSO READ:
ITD, CCDC collaborate to make changes to Front, Myrtle

Slower speeds?

The report didn’t specifically make a recommendation about what to do about the 35 MPH speed limit.

It did include a page about “Other ITD facilities” and noted that both Highway 26 in Downtown Idaho Falls and The I-84 business loop in Caldwell have speed limits of 25 MPH in urban environments.

“Neither of these examples are  analogous to Front and Myrtle, but are instead offered to provide context for the potential for lower speeds,” report writers noted.

A CCDC official told me last year that reducing the speed from its current 35 MPH posting would have several impacts the agency viewed as positive - including reducing the amount of time it takes cars to speed up and slow down, and making the streets quieter and calmer in general.

By Famartin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34842272

By Famartin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34842272

ITD has held to the 35 MPH limit.

The conflict is noted in the report’s opening pages.

“Front and Myrtle’s primary role as a major east-west facility to move traffic can’t be overlooked, especially with the rise of Meridian as key destination in the west metro area, and strong residential growth in southeast Boise.”

Trimboli says comparing Front & Myrtle to the roads in other roads isn't a complete comparison.

"It’s an apples to oranges comparison because it’s a freeway-freeway connection. I-84 back to I-84 via Broadway," he said.

Schwartz suggests looking at signal timing along Front Street during peak rush hour.  Right now, vehicles are given 140 seconds for each green cycle in rush hour periods - which means people on foot, bike or car who want to get across Front wait nearly two minutes.  The reports says cutting the cycle length  time to 90 or 100 seconds could have small impacts to traffic on Front - but concedes that signal timing on Front and Myrtle are all tied into the wider timing of streets across downtown, which the report writers acknowledge is beyond the scope of their report.

Up and over? Over and out

A pedestrian walkway like the one soon to be constructed over Ave. B by St. Luke's Health System isn't suggest for Front or Myrtle.

A pedestrian walkway like the one soon to be constructed over Ave. B by St. Luke's Health System isn't suggest for Front or Myrtle.

Last fall when BoiseDev first broke word of this process, the headline included the phrase “visions of tunnels & skybridges” - based upon reporting from stakeholders who wanted to see “big picture” ideas for Front and Myrtle in the future.

But the report bats down these ideas.

In essence, Schwartz's team argues that putting the road in a tunnel or building a skybridge over the top causes many problems.

Even thought a skybridge gets people on foot and bike up and over the cars, they make “inconvenient diversions.”  To access a skybridge, you often have to take a ramp, elevator or stairs - instead of just crossing the street a normal crosswalk.

For tunnels, they can be “potentially unpleasant.” If you’ve ever been in a car tunnel, they aren’t exactly a place you want to spend much time.

And lastly - either option is expensive.

“Bridges and tunnels would also be significantly more expensive than street design and traffic signal changes,” the Schwartz report said.

What’s next?

While City of Boise spokesperson Mike Journee did not respond to a request for comment, the Capital City Development Corporation and Idaho Transportation both emphasized it's not a final solution.

CCDC and ITD have worked together to implement several portions of the plan - including an extensive project to expand the Pioneer Pathway connection at 11th and Myrtle.

“Other near-term improvements include expanding corners and shortening pedestrian crossing distances at 20 locations along Front and Myrtle, set to occur with the resurfacing of those streets next spring,” CCDC Project Manager Matt Edmond said. 

Trimboli said the plan is one idea for the future - but more negotiation needs to happen.

Trimboli

Trimboli

“The plan they’ve presented is to one extreme and we need to find one that’s balanced,” he said. “We want to work with the City. We’ve had some conversations with them, and like to see some of our suggestions wrapped into the plan. “

Trimboli said his agency and the City worked together on the Broadway Ave. bridge completed last fall and hopes something similar can happen with this project.

“Let’s find solutions We worked through Broadway, we can work through them on this to come up with a future plan that will be the best for all involved.”

Edmond echoed the need for more collaborative work to come.

“The Analysis offers a menu of other changes to Front and Myrtle that, while promising, are somewhat more complex, and so will require additional analysis and stakeholder outreach, both by CCDC and its partner agencies in the coming months.”

Schwartz’s firm and two partner companies collected about $200,000 for the review project.  

CCDC employees 'walk every block' to look for opportunities

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The Capital City Development Corporation staff have instituted a program to put "boots on the ground" throughout its four tax increment financing-backed urban renewal districts.

"The goal is for every employee to walk every blockface of every CCDC district," CCDC executive director John Brunelle wrote in his monthly board note.

The idea is for each of the agency's employee to walk each block face of every CCDC district.  

"So far we have completed the Central and Westside districts and a portion of the 540 acre River-Myrtle/Old Boise district," Brunelle noted.

Each employee looks for "problems and opportunities," including streetscape issues and any pedestrian or bicycle challenges.  Employees take photos and report back on what they see.

"As the days grow shorter we plan to stay close to our actual work, walk faster, see more, and keep moving ahead with boots on the ground.," Brunelle wrote.

Finally finding their way: Downtown could get directional signs soon

The Capital City Development Corporation has been leading an effort to add so-called "wayfinding" signs to Downtown Boise for more than five years.

The Boise Weekly first wrote about the effort in 2013 - but progress was anything but quick.

After a multitude of delays - the project is finally starting to inch forward.

The agency is set to put up a set of signs all across the downtown core and beyond to help make it easier to find top attractions in the City of Trees.

The signs will actually look somewhat like trees - with metalwork designed to look like branches.

They will feature an olive color, with accents of purple, orange and other colors (typical Boise colors like blue and green are harder to use due to federal highway sign standards).

CCDC, the Ada County Highway District and the City of Boise have approved the sign program - and will start with a test sign in front of Julia Davis Park this fall.

The original Boise Weekly story noted that Missoula spent $100,000 on its sign project. The Boise project will cost taxpayers quite a bit more - $1.465 million according to CCDC estimates.

A wide variety of signs are planned:

Gateway

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These large signs would be more than twelve feet tall and would be located at the major entrances to the downtown core. They would extend the tree theme on to the sign face and would feature large "Welcome to Boise" messaging.

Directional

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Downtown would be split into five "zones," which each would be color-coded.

  • The central business district would sport purple
  • The currently largely-vacant western area would go with yellow
  • The area around the Capitol would be deemed North and take on a red hue
  • The eastern part of downtown around St. Luke's would be orange
  • The area south of the Boise River, which includes Boise State and several major parks would be themed in blue.

Bike

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Signs to help bicyclists would be added throughout, giving approximate bike-riding distances to major attractions. These signs would carry the themed district colors.

Map kiosks

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A number of map kiosks are planned, with local areas as well as a downtown-wide map. The samples included in public documents say "City Wide," but only depict downtown.

Parking

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To help drivers find a place to stow their cars, blue parking signs are in the plan.  Smaller pedestrian versions would help folks on foot get back to their cars.

UPDATE: Trial of printed quilt headed for downtown soon

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A new public art installation is planned for Downtown Boise -- on the ground.

The intersection of 8th and Fulton - near the Foothills Learning Center - is set to see a printed mural project from local artist Jason Keeble. 

The project is set to be installed this spring, and will feature a multi-color zig-zag pattern in the area between the crosswalks.

"This area is in great need of a color splash," Keeble wrote in a design presentation. "This design offers a chance to brighten up the area in a fun and engaging pattern."

Keeble notes that the installation will look different depending your viewpoint.

The Boise Department of Arts & History is behind the project - with funding from Capital City Development Corporation. It is one of a number of projects along the 8th Street corridor in various stages of execution.

The art installation is a pilot test to see if it would be viable in other areas, in partnership with the Ada County Highway District.  The mural is set to remain in place for one year.

An updated design with more green and less orange and red has been provided by the Arts & History team.

 

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Corrects: 8th Street not 9th Street  

Pay more to park? CCDC proposes new downtown rates

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The Capital City Development Corporation, citing an increase in demand, plans to hold a public hearing to raise parking rates in its downtown Boise garage.

Every type of parker would be affect by the increases - including hourly, monthly and hotel guests.

From our April story:

The Capital City Development Corporation, which administers the public parking garage in the Downtown Boise core knows it has a problem -- one it anticipated.

CCDC chair John Hale said during a public meeting earlier this month that the tight parking situation is a "good problem to have."

"This continues to be a problem that is growing, it is not leveling off," Hale said. "We as a board are going to have to make some tough decisions in the next 90 days."

Those problems include a fully sold-out allotment of monthly parking spaces in the publicly-owned garage system. A growing number of workers are turning to paying the daily rate to stow their cars in the public garages, which is causing garages to fill up and divert folks who may be coming to downtown for just a few hours to a less-ideal parking spot.

CCDC has seen an 81% increase in so-called all-day parkers - and the number has spiked in recent cold-weather months.

“We have attempted to accommodate everybody," CCDC parking & facilities director Max Clark said. "Historically we’ve been able to do that because it’s (been) a sleepy downtown."

The agency last raised rates in early 2016 - which caused about ten people to cancel their parking passes, according to Clark.

For those who park their cars in any one of the agency's six public garages, the hourly rate would increase by about 17% - from $2.50 per hour to $3 per hour.  The popular "first hour free" program would be retained for those who are able to get in and out quickly. The maximum daily rate would also rise - up 20% from $12 to $15.

Currently, the monthly rate at each garage is different - but under the plan, rates at all garages would increase significantly.

Here's the breakdown:

Capitol & Main (aka Capital Terrace)
Current rate: $135/mo.
Proposed rate: $175/mo.
Percentage increase: 23%

9th & Main (aka Eastman)
Current rate: $135/mo.
Proposed rate: $175/mo.
Percentage increase: 23%

9th & Front
Current rate: $120/mo.
Proposed rate: $140/mo.
Percentage increase: 15%

10th & Front
Current rate: $120/mo.
Proposed rate: $140/mo.
Percentage increase: 15%

Capitol & Myrtle
Current rate: $120/mo.
Proposed rate: $140/mo.
Percentage increase: 15%

Capitol & Front
Current rate: $120/mo.
Proposed rate: $140/mo.
Percentage increase: 15%

Two new garages are set to come online soon - the 5th & Broad St. garage - which would set monthly parking at $175, and the 11th & Front garage that's part of Parcel B - which would offer a deal at just $100 per month.

Several other miscellaneous parking types would also increase - including hotel valet, which currently costs $2.85 per use -- and would would more than triple in price to $10.

Folks who self park for a hotel would see the daily rate rise from $5.70 to $10 - an increase of 75%.

The monthly "night plan" - which allows workers who work the late shift downtown - would increase slightly from $43 per month to $50.

A public hearing is slated for noon on November 13th at the CCDC board room - 121 N. 9th St., Suite 501.

Historic 8th St. bridge to get LED upgrade

One of the oldest bridges in the City of Boise is about to get outfitted with brand new technology.

The Capital City Development Corporation and City of Boise are partnering to add LED lighting the the 8th Street Trestle Bridge.

PLSM.com screenshot. CCDC cited this bridge in Clarksville, TN as a model for the work to happen on 8th St. in Boise

PLSM.com screenshot. CCDC cited this bridge in Clarksville, TN as a model for the work to happen on 8th St. in Boise

Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

The bridge is more than 100 years old, constructed in 1911 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It crosses the Boise River near the Ann Frank Human Rights Memorial and was built by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Co.  It was the first bridge crossing over the river, eliminating the need to take a ferry to get from the city core to then-rural areas south of the river.

ALSO READ: 

Dancing pixel display planned for Grove Plaza approach

The City of Boise Department of Arts & History awarded an estimated $75,000 bid to Rocky Mountain Electric to do the lighting install. 

According to CCDC, which will contribute urban renewal tax dollars to the project, it will include "adjustable and programmable LED lighting for seasonal and special occasions." The agency says the upgrades will also help boost pedestrian experience and safety.

The lights should be up and running by late this year.

CCDC to consider new Shoreline renewal district near proposed stadium

The Capital City Development Corporation is moving forward with plans to form a fifth urban renewal district - which would include the land around a proposed Downtown Boise stadium project.

The new area would include portions of the current 30th Street district and River Myrtle Old Boise districts, as well as additional land. It would also, for the first time, move CCDC's urban renewal efforts south of the Boise River by including an area around Lusk St.

BoiseDev first reported the agency was looking at options for an additional urban renewal district in April.

An urban renewal district works by capping property tax collections to agencies like schools, police, fire and roads at the level they stand at the time the district is created.  Then, when and if urban renewal efforts and natural property value increase the tax collection amounts of the properties inside that district - the "extra" tax money is funneled to CCDC for a period of up to twenty years.

CCDC often secures bonds on the so-called "tax increment," allowing it to fund projects upfront and pay for them over the life of the district.

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The newly created area would include 128 parcels according to consultant SB Friedman - with about 100 buildings. It would total 191 acres, including 26 acres of the Boise River and 49 acres of road and other public property.

The consultant group studied the area and found that less than one in four buildings were deemed to be "deteriorating." It also said the road grid in the area was "defective or inadequate."

The report also says crime has been increasing in the proposed district - with  the crime rate increasing in each of the past five years.

CCDC officials tell BoiseDev the findings will next be presented to the City Council, which would consider creation of the new urban renewal district.

Stay tuned to BoiseDev for additional exclusive reporting on the stadium story this week.  

With update to Capital Terrace retail, what will happen to the garage?

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Last month, BoiseDev reported the retail portion of the dated-looking Capital Terrace building would get updated.

The building actually has two owners - with the retail areas under the ownership of Hawkins Co. - they are behind the main building update.  But the parking garage itself is owned by the Capital City Development Corporation.  That agency actually renamed the garage with its new naming scheme - it will soon be known as the Capitol & Main garage.

CCDC officials tell BoiseDev they may do some "affordable improvements" in 2018 or 2019.  That won't be a renovation or major revamp like is happening on the retail part of the building, but could include new paint and what they call minor affordable improvements.

Officials with CCDC say they are happy to see the upgrades from Hawkins Co., and also appreciate the former owners the Roper family for taking a chance on building the retail in the first place during the 1980s.

ALSO READ:
Capital Terrace to get modern update (finally)

 

Capitol Terrace building to get modern update (finally)

Boise's Capitol Terrace building was part of the first wave of Downtown Boise urban renewal, built in the 1980s to house both parking and retail.

The building is actually split, with two owners - the garage is owned by the Capital City Development Corporation, and the retail portions are owned by Hawkins Co. after a purchase earlier this year.

The retail building sits at the corner of 8th & Main - which has seen a renaissance in recent years with updates to the Grove Plaza, new Zions Bank building and Clearwater Building. With all the modern updates, Capitol Terrace stands out for its dated appearance.

THE CAPITOL TERRACE GARAGE AND RETAIL SPACE AS SEEN FROM ABOVE. PHOTO: DON DAY/BOISEDEV.COM

THE CAPITOL TERRACE GARAGE AND RETAIL SPACE AS SEEN FROM ABOVE. PHOTO: DON DAY/BOISEDEV.COM

After very little reinvestment by the prior owner, Hawkins is planning to make some updates to the poured-concrete structure. 

If approved by City of Boise's Design Review board, crews will update the building's facade with a new beige-grey and bright green color scheme.

The checkered black-and-white tile along storefronts will be given a black-brick texture.

Current green fabric canopies will be removed, and new cherry wood panels suspended from cables will help shade storefronts.

Hawkins also plans a new framing of the main entrance along 8th St. near the escalators.

"We are positioning ourself for future phases, which could include: Additional Parking, Office and/or Residential uses," according to permits filed with the City of Boise.  The developer owns the right to build on top of the current retail building along 8th Street.

For now, the portion of the building owned by CCDC would remain as is. We've reached out to officials with that agency to see what if anything they have planned.

Boise to spend $3.5 million to steam ahead on downtown rail plan

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UPDATE: A prior version of this story used different budget figures provided to BoiseDev by the City of Boise and confirmed on a CCDC document. Story updated with latest information.

The City of Boise and Capital City Development Corporation are preparing to put public money toward the vision for a fixed-rail streetcar in Downtown Boise.

During a Monday meeting, the CCDC proposed to spend $2.3 million during the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years - which would be partially matched by $1.2 million coming from the City of Boise's general fund - for a total of more than $3.5 million of public tax dollars.

The money would be used for engineering of the roughly 5-mile streetcar line - and is only the first step in a project that could cost well more than $100 million if built.

Despite mixed public feedback and a circulator committee that did not advocate specifically for rail, Boise City Council in April voted to move forward with the fixed-rail concept.

The City has a request for qualifications out for "professional services consultant... focusing on advancing the Downtown Boise Circulator project." Two firms responded and a final award has not yet been made, according to public records.

City of Boise Communications Director Mike Journee said the city is currently working to put together financing on the rail project - which could include federal dollars.

"We are in the pre-application phase," he said. "We are working with consultants and others to understand our financing and understanding and we can enter into a small starts grant program," he said.

Journee said that while the City Council advocated for fixed-rail, city staffers are also looking at potential ideas like autonomous vehicles. 

"(Staff are working to) Identify and evaluate areas of concern and potential challenges and monitor and explore emerging technologies," he said.

One member of the city's circulator steering committee and prominent Downtown Boise developer Clay Carley told BoiseDev earlier this summer he is not in favor of a rail-based solution - and would rally his peers to "vote against" any such effort. He instead advocated for an autonomous bus or similar solution.

In its RFQ, obtained by BoiseDev, the City is asking for firms to assist with:

  • Assisting the City in developing a local funding plan which include a local funding portfolio which may include local improvement districts, Tax increment financing, institutional partnerships and others opportunities
  • Identifying Federal grant opportunities with particular expertise in Federal Transit Administrations grants and TIGER expertise
  • Identifying and evaluating emerging technologies
  • Ridership estimates
  • Economic activity estimates
  • Developing construction cost estimates
  • Developing operation and maintenance estimates
  • Developing short term and long term schedules and plans

What's next?

For the City of Boise, Journee says the public feedback window has for now closed - and that the City Council has approved the rail plan. A process over one-to-two years will play out that includes the funding piece. 

The public has a chance to attend a public hearing for the Capital City Development Corporation on Tuesday August 29th at noon to weigh in on the budget outlay.  

Any final say on a fixed-rail streetcar ultimately lies with the Ada County Highway District, which controls the right-of-way for all streets in the county.  

Up in the air: City of Boise installs new City Hall art piece (see time lapse)

Downtown Boise is getting a new high-profile art piece as part of the revamp of the plaza in front of City Hall.

"Cottonwoods" is designed to look like a grove of Cottonwood trees, with "silhouettes (that) will change profiles as people pass by and with the shifting of sunlight."

The metal structures are more than two stories tall, with seven in all. They will be lit at night by uplights embedded in the ground

The plaza revamp project is being funded by $3.8 million in taxpayer dollars - including $1.2 million from the Capital City Development Corporation and $2.6 million from the city's general fund. It should wrap up this fall.

The City of Boise's Department of Arts & History commissioned the piece.  

An interactive water feature is also being installed in place of the leaking fountain once featured on the plaza.

Old Boise gets lit: New "uplights" coming to Downtown sidewalks

Courtesy OldBoise.com

Courtesy OldBoise.com

The Capital City Development Corporation will be revamping some of the streetscapes on Main Street and Capitol Blvd. Beyond the usual bricks and trees, CCDC and the City of Boise are trying something new: uplights.

CCDC put the project out to bid, and Guho Corp. got the contract to redo a variety of streetscapes throughout CCDC's districts.

Some incremental funds were set aside to install more than 40 "in ground streetlights" - small LED fixtures set into the sidewalk that will cast light up on to buildings in the Old Boise area - including the area around Goldie's, Humpin' Hannah's, Brickyard and Amsertdam Lounge that would cast up on to the buildings, highlighting the architecture of some of Boise's oldest structures.

The project will cost about $55,000 in funds from CCDC's coffers.

The lights will be maintained by a company controlled by Old Boise owner Clay Carley.