Infrastructure

Deteriorating Depot Hill traffic circle mosaic to be torn up

In just five short years, a piece of artwork has become a landmark on the Boise Bench.

Artists Anna Webb and Reham Aarti worked together to install a mosaic with more than 300,000 tiles in a traffic calming circle near the Boise Depot throughout the fall of 2013. 

Now, the tile mosaic is set to be torn out and replaced with a plain brick traffic circle.

The piece, known formally as Infernum Bestiae, took months to install. Now, after several years, the artwork has to go, according to City of Boise officials.  The reason? Damage.

A close view shows tiles that have popped off the surface of the mosaic. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

A close view shows tiles that have popped off the surface of the mosaic. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

"We are experiencing a loss of tiles and deterioration of the tiles," Jennifer Yribar with the City of Boise said. "Everyone was very proud of this artwork and still are. The loss of tiles is due to a number of factors - including the weather and heavy construction and emergency vehicles going over the roundabout."

Yribar said contraction in the concrete under the mosaic and fissures in the substrate has also led to some of the tiles popping off the piece.

Artists Webb and Aarti wouldn't comment on the record about the plan to remove the artwork, but a public records request filed by BoiseDev showed Aarti has asked to reclaim one or more of the tiles. 

The city said she would have to get approval from the Ada County Highway District.

ACHD spokesperson Nicole Dubois says her agency is OK with the salvage job.

Signage welcomes visitors to Depot Hill, and provides details about the art project. Photos: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

Signage welcomes visitors to Depot Hill, and provides details about the art project. Photos: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

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"The artist is welcome to salvage the mosaic," she said. "I know she has been in contact with our traffic department, but do not know the timeline of when/if she plans to do this."

But city officials say they've only approved the removal of a single tile that had "sentimental value about her father," Yribar said.  The city says it still owns the artwork, and Boise City Council hasn't approved removing more than a single tile.

"Following Council approval of the deaccession, a window of time may be identified by the City of Boise and ACHD for the artist to salvage material, but we need to wait until the artwork is officially deaccessioned," she said. "We will inform Reham of this course of action."

The city and the Depot Bench Neighborhood Association worked to install the initial piece as part of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant program. City spokesperson Mike Journee says they hope to approve more long-lasting art projects going forward.

"Obviously this was expected to last longer," he said. "We are taking this as a learning experience - probably in hindsight we wouldn’t have moved forward knowing the challenges, and are hoping to move forward with better practices moving forward."

The city and neighborhood association say they are working together for a new piece of art in the area to make up for the soon to be demolished roundabout piece.

"When the Depot Bench Neighborhood Association was informed about this we were certainly disappointed," Depot Bench Neighborhood Association President Jennifer Visser said. "However, we do understand that if they have attempted to repair it and it's still crumbling that it isn't standing the test of time to be a long-term installment."

The city and DBNA are working together for a replacement project in another location.

"A number of months ago, three representatives from the Arts and History Department attended our board meeting to inform us about the likely removal of the art in the roundabout and also took initial input on new proposals," Visser said. "Since then we have been in communication about concepts and intend to work with the city within their normal guidelines to go about a new replacement art installation."

Yribar says there will be an open call for artists once a few more pieces can be put in place

"We still have to work with the neighborhood association to locate a site for the artwork, to identify the theme for the artwork and the type of materials that will be used," she said. "We will probably be going out with a call later this summer or early this fall."

City tries out new Greenbelt signs

A directional sign on the Boise Greenbelt is a trial - part of a plan that could expand if funding is found.

BoiseDev friend Wade Dorrell noticed the sign, which includes a colorful map of the Greenbelt, plus directional arrows to nearby attractions near the Main Post Office.

"This sign is a prototype that was installed over a year ago," Boise Parks and Rec Communication Manager Bonnie Shelton said.  It is part of a wayfinding plan by the City of Boise that includes "portions of the Greenbelt including Americana to Broadway and Julia Davis Park."

Shelton says for now there is no funding to roll out more signs - and the prototype is helping the parks and rec team see how materials hold up etc.

The Capital City Development Corporation is also working on a wayfinding plan for the Downtown Boise core and gateways to the city that is in the testing phase. Shelton says this is separate from the effort but the signage carries a similar design.

Header photo courtesy Wade Dorrell

First formal stadium step faces multi-pronged opposition

After a surprise detour suggested by Boise's mayor to look at an alternative site, the focus for a Boise stadium proposal funded in part by taxpayers has refocused on a spot at Americana Blvd. and Shoreline Drive.

Google Earth view of the proposed stadium site. Summit Dental is located adjacent to the parcel but not part of the stadium project.

Google Earth view of the proposed stadium site. Summit Dental is located adjacent to the parcel but not part of the stadium project.

A neighborhood meeting is set for tonight, the required first step ahead of submitting plans to the City of Boise.  Many building projects go through this pro forma process, but few see as much scrutiny as this one.

Two groups have worked to rally folks to show up for the meeting with developers.

The first is Summit Dental, which owns an office immediately adjacent to the proposed stadium site. The doctor-owned practice sent an email blast to patients today:

Our goal at Summit Dental, from the time we built our building, was to provide a convenient, comfortable and easily accessible place for our patients to come for their dental care. As the illustrations stand right now, the proposed building plans for the new baseball stadium could threaten those conveniences we have worked so hard to provide to our patients; mainly accessibility and parking.

KTVB reported in October that the doctors were worried about the impact a stadium could have on their practice.

The other group working to get citizens to show up is Concerned Boise Taxpayers - a coalition of business interests and citizens who say they are worried about the public money and tax implications of the project. Some members also own homes near the proposed site.

A sponsored Facebook post has attracted more than 100 comments both for and against the project.

The Vanishing Boise group also shared the CBT invite and prompted its followers: " Let’s find out why - if this is such a great commercial venture - that a subsidy of our hard-earned tax dollars is necessary?? "

The Capital City Development Corporation, which could have an as-yet-unannounced role in the stadium project, expressed enthusiasm for the developer in Executive Director John Brunelle's monthly report to the agency's board of directors:

(C)heck out this beautiful new stadium in North Augusta, South Carolina, home of the Augusta Greenjackets. They broke ground on the stadium less than one year ago, and opening day is this week. Congratulations to Chris Schoen, Greenstone Properties, and Agon Sports & Entertainment on this success!

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Later in the report, Brunelle says his agency continues to work with Greenstone on the project

Agency staff continues working others to determine a critical path for this project, development budget, schedule and financing plan.

The neighborhood meeting is set for tonight, April 17th, at 6:30pm a the site on Americana and Shoreline.

BoiseDev Stadium Dream coverage

Explainer: Boise wants rule changes around additional dwellings, land division and notification

The City of Boise is working to tweak a number of its rules around development - mostly in neighborhoods.

A Google Earth view of the North End

A Google Earth view of the North End

The proposals have some people fired up, and attracted disapproving letters from the North End Neighborhood Association, among others.  

The City made a number of adjustments to the proposal and provided additional information to allay some of NENA’s concerns.

City leaders say the changes are small, and designed to tighten some requirements and ease others.

Minor land divisions

Right now, according to city spokesperson Mike Journee, folks who own a piece of land can apply to split it into four pieces and skip the long and complicated subdivision process. Instead, they 

“If I own a piece of property, no matter how big it is right now, I can divide it into four pieces of property and develop them separately,” Journee said. “I can do so without going through the (process) that we require for a subdivision plat - things like setbacks, roadways and other infrastructure are challenging in that scenario.”

Cody Riddle, Current Planning Manager with te City of Boise says this change gives them the ability to put more scrutiny on these applications.

“(This gives) us more discretion to deny them and go through the public hearing process,” he said. “They may meet black and white dimensional standards, but we’d like to go through the planning and zoning process.”

Giving notice

Another change would impact who gets notified when a homeowner wants to make a so-called administrative change to their home.  Currently, every neighbor within 300 foot must be notified and a neighborhood meeting must be held - even for changes like the addition of a kitchen or room add-on.  The new proposal would rework the process.

“Right now for a variance, we require a neighborhood meeting. We are not changing that requirement,” Riddle said. “What we are saying for a neighborhood meeting - if someone is adding on to their home, or building a shed - we are saying you don’t need to invite anyone within 300 feet, you just have to inform adjacent landowners and the neighborhood association.”

Instead of a neighborhood meeting, residents would be required to get written consent from every landowner who has property that touches theirs - as well as notify the neighborhood association for their part of town.

“99% of the time it’s just the adjacent landowners that care or get involved anyway,” he said.

Riddle says these administrative variances are small in scope - for some residential projects and “very few commercial projects.”

If a landowner can’t get written consent from every neighbor, they must still hold a neighborhood meeting for every landowner within 300 feet.

Home sweet (adjacent) home

Planners have also proposed to adjust the rules around second homes - or “accessory dwelling units.”  Current City code limits these types of buildings to 600 square feet and a single bedroom - or ten percent of the land area of a parcel.  

The proposal would increase the size limit of an ADU to 700 square feet (but still limited to one bedroom).

Here’s how the City justifies the change in documents filed online:

“The Planning Team finds ADUs to be a good affordable housing option within the City that allows new living units to be established within developed areas of the City with existing facilities. Additionally, many ADUs are used by City residents to provide housing for relatives who need assistance or who are looking for an affordable housing option. As the property owner is required to live on site, ADUs generally provide a well-controlled form of rental housing.”

You can read the full rationale for the changes here.

None of the proposed changes affect zoning code or rezoning. They also don’t impact most commercial projects or conditional use permits.

New local subdivision pays tribute to Game of Thrones

The fictional world of Game of Thrones is filled with intrigue, fantastical characters, and fire-breathing dragons.  It's unlikely any of those things will show up in Kuna - but a new subdivision will carry a bit of the GoT mythology.

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The future Silver Trail subdivision in the area of Ten Mile Rd. and Columbia Rd. is planned to have a pair of streets that pay homage to the popular HBO show.

Residents will soon have the option of purchasing a home on Baratheon Ave. or Rickon St.

Baratheon is the family name of the first king depicted in the series, Robert - and his family lineage (or assumed family lineage at least) is littered with folks who meet with ill fates.

Rickon refers to the son of protagonist Eddard Stark on the show and the book series it is based on, A Song of Fire and Ice by George RR Martin.

The street names were the idea of Jennell Hall of B&A Engineers, Inc. 

The plat map shows Baratheon and Rickon in the forthcoming Silver Trail subdivision

The plat map shows Baratheon and Rickon in the forthcoming Silver Trail subdivision

"On that subdivision my supervisor just let me go wild, so I did," she said. "He now usually gives me a theme to follow... but I'll still sneak in a geeky one here or there."

Other streets in the subdivision are slated to sneak in references to the 2000s show Firefly - and more GoT-themed streets could be in the future as the subdivision is plotted out.

Silver Trail will feature homes constructed by CBH Homes.

The GoT-themed roads got their names after the Ada County Street Names Committee rejected earlier ideas, This Ave. and That St. (Abbott & Costello would have been proud). 

The full plat plan for the subdivision shows names like Sansa, Arya, Greyjoy and Tyrion in future phases.  Streets with names Stark, Tarth and Samwell were all denied for various reasons (mostly due to rhyming with other names in the county - Stark and Clark for instance).

If you happen to see any wild hogs in the area, you might want to steer clear. Or guys named Ramsay. 

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"

Leaders hope massive expansion could increase bus usage 800%

  • Plan would revamp system across Ada & Canyon counties.
  • Feedback sought from public on concepts.
  • Funding an open question

The Boise area is booming. Crazy, faster-than-anywhere-else booming.

But transit service in the metro area is, to put it mildly - wanting.

If you’d like to get around without a car, your options are essentially your feet, a bike (as long snow isn't piled up in the bike lanes) or a limited bus system that doesn't run frequently enough for the tastes of many.

A ValleyRide bus turns on the Main Street in Boise last summer. If Valley Regional Transit autorities get their way, many more buses will roll down local streets.

A ValleyRide bus turns on the Main Street in Boise last summer. If Valley Regional Transit autorities get their way, many more buses will roll down local streets.

But the area's transit authority, Valley Regional Transit, wants to solve it.

The road ahead for the bus system could be complicated though.

VRT is asking for public feedback through March 15th on ValleyConnect 2.0 - a set of ambitious ideas to revamp and remake public transit in Ada and Canyon Counties.

"(One thing) we are trying to do with this plan is be more intentional about promoting transit as a vehicle toward freedom of movement.  So there is a kind of 'if you build it, they will come' mentality," VRT Principal Planner Stephen Hunt told BoiseDev. "The underlying core is helping people get to more places in less time at lower cost. "

The plan lays out three scenarios - do nothing, implement an intermediate plan or tackle the growth.

ALSO READ: 
Bigger than a streetcar. A vision for transit in 2040 

Where we stand

Presently, VRT spends about $10 million per year for its bus operations around the area. It spends $15 million on capital costs and improvements.

That money gets the public a somewhat-limited set of bus routes that don't operate on Sunday, don't run much past 7 p.m. and leave large swaths of land without easy access to a bus route.

Ridership is also declining. 

"If you take all our services in aggregate number - there has been a slight drop over the last several years," Hunt said.  The ridership dips follow a national pattern of declines in fixed-line service.

ValleyRide ridership

Data via Valley Regional Transit

The number of people using the bus in Ada County has been increasing however, with declines in less dense Canyon County bringing usage down on the whole.

VRT ridership compared to average gas prices. Data provided by VRT

VRT ridership compared to average gas prices. Data provided by VRT

VRT community relations manager Mark Carnopis attributes the ridership figures to a cyclical pattern with gas prices. When the pain at the pump increases, more people hoof it to the bus. When prices decline - folks opt for their cars.

But Carnopis and Hunt note the cost of using a private vehicle can add up.

VRT number crunchers say the average Treasure Valley household spends $6,400 per year on their car or cars - for things like gas, taxes and insurance (not including the car itself). Over a year, that adds up to $1.5 billion per year at scale.

"If you ask someone who is used to driving around to use transit, they are going to experience this loss of 99% of their freedom," Carnopis said. "But - transit doesn’t come early enough, late enough, often enough on the weekend.  It’s all limited because of transit operation spending."

Map shows current network. Via Valley Regional Transit. Click to enlarge.

Where VRT hopes to go

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If the numbers hold true and $1.5 billion is coming from consumers' pockets to use their car - VRT hopes folks will see proposed plans to expand bus system as affordable in comparison.

And the goal that goes along with the plan is big.

"Our target is to increase ridership 800% - that’s kind of a big number," Hunt said.

With as much as a 400% increase in service, an 800% increase in usage would in theory make each dollar more efficient than the current set up.  

Two proposals are outlined in ValleyConnect 2.0.  

Intermediate

The first would double the current operating cost to $20 million per year. That would in turn amp up service hours - also doubling to 200,000 per year.  The scenario would pour $98 million into capital costs, which includes taking care of $23 million in deferred projects.

Here's what the extra cash would buy:

  • Increased service
    • All-day frequency to every 15 minutes on major transit corridors
    • Run all routes until 8 p.m., with "many past 9 p.m." on weekdays
    • Increase Saturday service from four routes to six
  • Expand fleet of buses and build up infrastructure
  • Focus on 40 miles of "premium high-frequency" corridors.
  • Upgrade passenger amenities
    • New or expanded transit centers, park & ride lots and "real-time passenger information."
  • Invest in tech to help coordinate specialized transportation - like vanpool, carpool, bike-share, parking and buses. 

Map shows proposed Intermediate network. Via Valley Regional Transit. Click to enlarge.

Growth

This plan is even more aggressive. It would quadruple current spending to $40 million, which would also quadruple the number of service hours to 400,000.  It would put in $191 million in capital upgrades.

For the growth plan, here's what the dollars would fund:

  • Increased service
    • All-day frequency to every 15 minutes "expansive transit network"
    • Add connections through Meridian and central part of two-county region
    • New inter-county connections to Boise Airport and Micron Technology campus
    • Run all service until 9 p.m. with most service until 10 p.m. weekdays
    • Increase Saturday service from four routes to 11.
    • Add first-ever Sunday service on eight routes.
  • Expand fleet of buses and build up infrastructure
  • Focus on 100 miles of "premium high-frequency" corridors.
  • Upgrade passenger amenities
    • New or expanded transit centers, park & ride lots and "real-time passenger information."

“The intermediate and growth scenarios are aggressive plans for growth that will dramatically improve transit service by connecting more people to more places, more often," report authors wrote.

Map shows proposed Growth network. Via Valley Regional Transit. Click to enlarge.

Big rail, small rail

A RegioSprinter train like this one rolled down the tracks of the Treasure Valley as a test in 1997 for ten days. Photo via  Alupus  

A RegioSprinter train like this one rolled down the tracks of the Treasure Valley as a test in 1997 for ten days. Photo via Alupus 

In 1997, then-Boise Mayor Brent Coles spearheaded an effort to consider rail in the transit mix for the Valley.  A ten-day trial brought passenger rail service from the Boise Depot with Idaho Center, with stops at the Boise Towne Square and elsewhere. More than 18,000 residents hopped aboard for the test. But the plan went nowhere and has not been a visible priority for Coles' eventual successor David Bieter - with a decade-long push for a downtown Boise circulator taking precedence. 

ValleyConnect does not specifically plan for use of the existing rail line that runs in the population center from Micron on the east through Nampa in the west, but does advocate building a system that orients to the possibility of using the rail line for passenger trains at some point in the future.

The Growth plan would put about 45,000 hours of service along I-84. If leaders instituted a rail service, those buses could be redirected off the freeway, providing even more service in neighborhoods. 

Rendering of possible Boise circulator. Courtesy City of Boise.

Rendering of possible Boise circulator. Courtesy City of Boise.

The plan doesn't, however, mention the idea from City of Boise leaders to build a $100-million streetcar that covers Downtown Boise and Boise State University.

"The Circulator is a City of Boise project," Hunt said. "That is something the city is pursuing on its own."

With VRT working to tie all forms of non-car transit together, would it make sense to be involved in the Circulator plan?

"The ball is in their (City of Boise’s) court for that," Carnopis said. "We are available and we could talk. We would be happy to help them on that."

The estimated cost to build a streetcar in Downtown Boise is $73.4 million according to an analysis from Leland Consulting. That compares to a $98 million capital investment for VRT's "Intermediate" concept which would operate across both counties.

Where will the cash come from?

Donald Trump won Ada County by nine points.

He took Canyon County by nearly 23 points.

Across Idaho, he won by 31 points.

There is little reason to believe that negative legislative attitudes... will change any time soon
— Dr. Jim Weatherby

While the metro area may be becoming increasingly progressive - and though Boise has a democratic mayor and several democratic representatives in the state legislature, the state as a whole is still very conservative.

Any group that proposes to spend more than $200 million in public money is going to face an uphill battle.

"We felt that it was important to lead with the public on an aspirational plan on what this could mean for the Valley," Hunt said. "There’s been a pretty consistent effort to get funding authority."

The idea to put forth a local option tax is one Treasure Valley leaders have been hoping for for quite some time. But longtime Idaho political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby says this path isn't easy.

"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.

He notes that proposals have popped up for more than 40 years in the legislature - and outside of some exemptions for resort cities and auditorium districts, local option taxes haven't been a popular notion with legislators.

Carnopis says his agency just wants the ability to let voters decide.

 "Give us the ability to take a referendum to the people, through our role to educate," he said. "We are not asking for taxation without representation"

"A vision without a plan is just a dream," Hunt said. "A plan without funding is hallucination."

Boise eyesore could get new life: where old 'tank farm' could go

When you think of Boise icons - the Depot, Statehouse and Blue Turf probably come to mind.

One thing that is iconic - if not in a good way - is the oil and gas tank farm on the Boise bench.

It's not exactly a shining point of civic pride, and city leaders are eyeing the idea of moving the hub for oil and gas in the Treasure Valley out of the heart of the bench to land near the Boise Airport.

BOISE BENCH TANK FARMS VIA FLICKR USER  LAURA GILMOR

BOISE BENCH TANK FARMS VIA FLICKR USER LAURA GILMOR

"The industrial use of tank farms is no longer compatible with this neighborhood in the geographic center of the city," Boise City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg told BoiseDev. "The residences and small businesses are impacted by the tanks, but also importantly the tank operations themselves have difficulty moving fuel and support vehicles through the neighborhood."

Clegg says finding a new spot for the tanks makes sense.

"The city is doing due diligence on a number of fronts especially regarding financial viability," she said.

More than 40 tanks are spread across the area, along with related facilities. Fuel is pumped via pipeline from Salt Lake City and distributed via trucks to gas stations throughout the greater Boise region.

A new urban renewal district could be created to include the site and surrounding area - analysis of that idea is also underway.  This year, the City of Boise is looking at both relocation and how the sites could be revamped when - and if - the tanks are demolished.

"This area of the bench has long been mentioned, for 20 years or so in my memory, as a location for a new URA district," Clegg said. "If this project were to go forward it would only make sense to include it in any bench URA district."

CCDC Executive Director John Brunelle said there has not been any movement at his agency for a new urban renewal district just yet. A draft of the proposed area from 2016 was obtained by BoiseDev, and includes the tank farm areas.

Boise Airport director Rebecca Hupp said it's still in the early stages of using airport land to relocate the tanks.

"The project is currently in a preliminary due diligence phase to determine if a relocation is even remotely viable," she said. 

Hupp said the airport owns about 5,000 acres in total.

"There is sufficient and compatible land available to accommodate the proposed purpose, but no specific sites have been selected."

There are actually three separate tank farms in the area:

  • A facility at 321 N. Curtis Rd. 18.6 acres, owned by Sinclair Transportation Company and valued at $2.963 million according to the Ada County Assessor. 
  • An 8.91 acre swath of land at 712 N. Curtis Rd. at the corner of Emerald St, also owned by Sinclair, which is said to be worth $2.1 million.
  • A bundle of parcels at 201 N. Phillipi St. totaling 15 acres owned by Tesoro, valued at $1.7 million dollars.

The farms have been part of the Bench area since the 1950s and are the dominant feature of Curtis Rd. between Franklin and Emerald, with some limited light industrial and office uses nearby.  The former West Jr. High site is being redeveloped into a multi-use project by Hawkins Development Co across the street, which could serve as an initial development catalyst.

The idea has been percolating for most of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's tenure as mayor. A resident approached Bieter with the idea in 2006 according to a Boise Weekly story at the time.

A new marquee on Broadway: Boise State to replace old sign

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The large reader-board display for Boise State University on Broadway Ave. near the Boise River has seen better days.

Members of the Boise State Spirit Squad pose in front of the sign in December, 2015 - just shortly before it was turned off in time for reconstruction of the Broadway Bridge.

Members of the Boise State Spirit Squad pose in front of the sign in December, 2015 - just shortly before it was turned off in time for reconstruction of the Broadway Bridge.

The sign still carries a logo replaced by the school in 2012, and has seen its digital reader board turned off since early 2016.

A new, updated sign will feature a more contemporary look, with enhanced digital display board and current branding.

Boise State University Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing Greg Hahn says the new sign " is designed to reflect the campus look and feel through the brick pattern, which can be seen across campus, and that silver/aluminum accent from buildings like the student union building and environmental research building."

The updated sign is proposed to be slightly taller - 30' 11" versus the current 26' structure.  It will be slightly less wide, 17' 7" versus 21' 4" currently. The inset reader board would also be slightly larger.

Hahn notes the digital board won't feature video images - just stills - due to its placement on Broadway Ave., which is a state highway. 

"We have used it in the past to advertising big events on campus, Morrison Center, Taco Bell, athletics, big days on campus," he said.

The sign must pass the permitting process with the City of Boise.

The marquee originally had a twin on Capitol Blvd. near the Towers Dorm. Both signs were originally sponsored by First Security Bank which covered installation costs totaling about $160k per sign, according to the Arbiter in 1984.  The Capitol Blvd. sign was removed as part of a push to improve the visual coridoor from the Boise Depot to Idaho Statehouse.

See a photo of the marquee shortly after installation in the Boise State photo archives.

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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! 

Old trolley tracks unearthed during downtown road work

Heap of history. Courtesy Jonah Shue.

Heap of history. Courtesy Jonah Shue.

Ada County Highway District crews are doing some roadwork in the area of 16th and State St. in the North End - and unearthed a giant pile of metal beams.

Courtesy Boise State University

Courtesy Boise State University

Turns out, according to ACHD spokesperson Nicole Du Bois, the metal is from old trolley tracks that once ran along State Street. The tracks are likely more than 100 years old - part of a trolley system that rolled through downtown Boise in the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century.

The trolley system around the Downtown Boise core and out State St. and Warm Springs Ave. stretched more than seven miles, according to a paper from Boise State University.  The project got going in the 1890s but sputtered to a stop nearly 90 years ago:

May 17, 1928 marked the official end of the trolley era. At 6:00pm the trolleys were taken to the storage barn, the few remaining patrons were given bus schedules, as they had now replaced the trolley line. Sadly, little sorrow from the public accompanied the close of the trolleys. People had long been complaining about poor service, bumpy rides, and unsightly cracked pavement around the tracks. However, for the few that faithfully rode the trolleys, the engineers and conductors who maintained and ran them, it was the end of an era.

The City of Boise hopes to startup its own $100-million trolley system in coming years that would again ride the streets of Downtown Boise.  The project is technically approved by Boise City Council, but a funding source has not yet been identified. The city has identified $3.5 million in tax dollars to start work on the project.

ACHD is replacing a bridge over a culvert in the area, and will wrap up work in mid-February.

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.

Complaint: Agency skirted Idaho law over stadium meetings

Via Greenstone Properties

Via Greenstone Properties

A group of connected Boiseans hopes to stop a downtown baseball and soccer stadium in its tracks, and is willing to press their case with the county prosecutor to do it.

A complaint filed late last month with the Ada County Prosecutor alleges the Greater Boise Auditorium District worked to circumvent Idaho's open meetings law in order to conceal dealings with the developer of a proposed downtown Boise stadium.

The five-page complaint includes a string of email messages involving GBAD executive director Pat Rice and Greenstone Properties principal Chris Schoen.  Greenstone is hoping to build a stadium on land currently owned by St. Luke's Health System near the Boise River in a complex deal that would include tax dollars, public bonds and private funding.

The Concerned Boise Taxpayers group led by former Albersons CEO Gary Michael and former Idaho Stampede lead investor Bill Ilett sent the letter to the Ada County Prosecutor on October 24th. BoiseDev was provided a copy of the letter and supporting documents from CBT. 

READ THE COMPLAINT

"Since I have 5 board members and a quorum requires a public meeting, I’d recommend an hour each in groups of 2+1," Rice wrote to Schoen in September of 2014. 

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 10.44.15 AM.png

That e-mail, with carbon copies to John Brunelle with the Capital City Development Corporation and Jade Riley in Mayor Dave Bieter's office among others, is the central piece of evidence in the CBT complaint.

I can’t have more than two at a time otherwise it is a quorum
— Pat Rice in en email to LeAnn Hume on October 2, 2014

In a follow up message to LeAnn Hume of Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, Rice again reiterated the importance of keeping his board in small group meetings.

"2 board members can meet. Then if we can tentatively plan for another meeting at 5 for 2 more board members that could work. As I mentioned previously, I can’t have more than two at a time otherwise it is a quorum."

The Michael & Ilett group requested thousands of documents from the City of Boise, CCDC and GBAD via public records requests, and provided many of those documents to media outlets including BoiseDev.

"As we searched through the documents provided in response to our public records requests, it was clear to us that the Idaho Open Meeting law was ignored," Michael said. "We want it investigated and, if the law was violated, we want it brought to light."

ALSO READ: 
Packaging a narrative: Inside the Boise Stadium push

When contacted, the Ada County Prosecutor would not comment on the existence of the letter. 

“Disclosure of such records would compromise any ongoing investigation that might be taking place by disclosing complaining witnesses and the details of any statutory default that might have taken place," Ada County Prosecutor Jan M. Bennetts wrote.

Rice had not seen the complaint when contacted last week by BoiseDev. After review, he was unable to comment fully on the record.

"This is a complaint in progress," Rice said. "If the county prosecutor contacts us, we are going to cooperate fully. "

He emphasized that though the City of Boise is working to move the project forward, his agency has had no formal involvement to this point.

"We are not committed to the project at this stage and the board has not seen any type of formal proposal."

It’s clearly a violation of the Idaho Open Meeting Law
— Betsy Russell, Idaho Press Club president

After reviewing the complaint, Idaho Press Club president Betsy Russell expressed concern over the meetings as outlined.

"It's clearly a violation of the Idaho Open Meeting Law," she said.  "The point of the law is to ensure that the public's business is done openly and that the public can observe it."

Russell also serves with Idahoans for Openness in Government and says that group holds seminars on this very topic.

"It appears to me to be a classic case of what we call a 'serial meeting'," she said.  "Elaborate subterfuges designed to avoid a quorum and allow a series of smaller meetings to substitute for an open public one as a public agency deliberates on a topic not only would defeat the whole purpose of the open meeting law - they also clearly violate it."

Ilett says that's the central argument behind their complaint.

"The documents show that City Hall and GBAD have been very devious in the way they have pushed the project forward, working with the out-of-town developer for the past two-plus years without public disclosure," he said.

Michael said this tactic is about one thing: stopping public dollars for a stadium.

"Our overall goal is simple. We do not want the baseball stadium built with public funds. It is the wrong project in the wrong place. "

First a fence, now a crossing: new light headed for Capitol Blvd.

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 10.36.16 AM.png

After the installation of a fence on Capitol Blvd. between the Lusk District and the Boise State University campus, ACHD is changing tactics.

Crews are set to add a pedestrian crossing at Island Ave. that will be activated only when people on foot push a button and request to cross. 

Work is underway now, the new signal is slated to be finished in November.

Student population is booming in the Lusk area - the new crossing will join a new crossing at Royal Blvd constructed last year.

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

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 10.37.25 PM.png

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

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 10.37.36 PM.png

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

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 10.40.40 PM.png

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

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 10.34.07 AM.png

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.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 5.38.05 PM.png

Corrects: 8th Street not 9th Street  

Pay more to park? CCDC proposes new downtown rates

p-crunch.png

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.

UPDATE: Dancing pixel display expanded

gbad2.jpg

The Greater Boise Auditorium District voted to move ahead with an expanded pixel display on the side of the Boise Centre along the 8th St. alley.

More light bars will be placed across a larger section of the building, both vertically and horizontally - giving a more dramatic appearance. The final appearance was approved at a September 1 GBAD meeting. 

EARLIER STORY - April 28th: Dancing pixel display planned for Grove Plaza approach

IMG_8204.PNG

A dynamic light show is planned for Boise's revamped convention center this summer.

The Greater Boise Auditorium District plans to affix a series of vertical bars to the side of the Boise Centre West building - which will be sync'ed to music and the newly revamped Grove Plaza fountain. 

The pixels bars will be installed along the wall - spaced every few feet.

“There’s nothing like this in Boise. There’s nothing like it in Idaho,” Boise Centre AV Manager Chris Morrison said during a public meeting Thursday.  

A static rendering of where the pixel bars will be placed. Courtesy Greater Boise Auditorium District.  

A static rendering of where the pixel bars will be placed. Courtesy Greater Boise Auditorium District.  

"The idea is that this is seamless," Boise Centre business information technology guru Svend Knutsen said. "As you approach on 8th street you see the fountain and as you enter you see the experience and hear the sound."

Morrison & Knutsen laid out the plan for the GBAD board - showing a mesmerizing demo video (below). Everyone in attendance in the meeting seemed awed by the demo (including me).

Video demo from Martin. Unlikely we'll see a techno soundtrack in Boise.

The product is from Danish manufacturer Martin - a sister brand to speaker makers JBL, Harman Kardon and others. The Pixline uses video with a soundtrack which makes it easy to program and use. The pixel bars will feature LED lights inside of a housing that has a diffusion filter. The filter will be rounded which will make it visible from all angles - including bouncing light off the ground and neighboring hotel building.

"The idea is to keep the sound and the music refreshed seasonally," Knutsen said. "(It could) perhaps correspond with local events, community highlights and perhaps things that are going on on the plaza."

Blue and orange on game days? Red and green for Festival of Trees?

Speakers mounted on poles along the south spoke and the Grove Plaza will allow one continuous experience along the walkway and in the main plaza.

Mounting diagram. Courtesy Greater Boise Auditorium District

Mounting diagram. Courtesy Greater Boise Auditorium District

The bars will be mounted twelve feet off the ground to help ward off vandalism.  Project managers also said they wanted to be restrained in how many pixel bars they used.

“We’re trying to keep it away from the Vegas effect but make it more welcoming," Boise Centre assistant executive director Cody Lund said. “This will help for lighting and safety reasons, as it’s a bit of a dark path.”

GBAD says it has shared the plan with the City of Boise, Capital City Development Corp, Idaho Transportation Department and Boise's arts commission and has received positive feedback.

The project will cost $75,000-$100,000 and is part of the budget for the Boise Centre expansion. They should be in place by July.