Public Facility

St. Luke's Shoreline campus sold - but not to the stadium developer

UPDATE: News release from Greenstone Properties below

According to deeds recorded with Ada County this morning, two parcels that were to be sold by St. Luke's Health System to Greenstone Properties for a new stadium project have been sold to other parties.

 

The property along the Boise River at 1471 W. Shoreline Drive that was at one point earmarked for condos and commercial space has been instead been sold to RDT Real Estate, which is controlled by Agri Beef president Robert N. Rebholtz, Jr. according to filings with the Idaho Secretary of State.  A representative for Agri Beef said Rebholtz was out of town and unavailable to comment.

Agri Beef's headquarters sites along Americana Blvd., next to the newly-acquired chunk of land.

Earlier this week, Agri Beef filed plans with the City of Boise to demolish the former The Pantry restaurant to build a parking lot on the site. Rebholtz's RDT Properties acquired this parcel after The Pantry closed in 2016.

ALSO READ: 
Boise Sports Park won't happen at Americana and Shoreline, could rise elsewhere

The second, larger property at 1500 W. Shoreline, which is currently home to a variety of functions for St. Luke's Health System was sold to another group - Ameri Shore, LLC according to those deed records. Ameri Shore is controlled by Spokane attorney John D. Munding.  Munding was also unavailable for comment this morning.

Greenstone Properties, LLC president Chris Schoen confirmed today that the stadium project is "headed to another site," but would not elaborate further - citing a news release set for later today

As BoiseDev first reported yesterday, Greenstone is considering a site currently owned by LocalConstruct LLC at Fairview Ave. and Whitewater Park Blvd.

Greenstone News Release

(BOISE) — Greenstone Properties announced today that it has chosen a different location to
build its proposed Boise Sports Park.

Greenstone had been under contract with St. Luke’s Health System to purchase property near
the intersection of Shoreline Drive and Americana Boulevard since March of 2017 as a potential
site for the proposed Boise Sports Park. In recent months, however, Greenstone has also
considered Downtown Boise’s West End neighborhood as a possible location for the sports park
and has recently decided to put its full focus on that area for the project.

“There are more advantages for the sports park in the West End area, including better access
and visibility, with fewer residential buildings and more commercial space in close proximity,”
said Greenstone principal Chris Schoen.

The exact parcels that could ultimately be included in the proposed project have not yet been
finalized, but Schoen commented that “once the location is determined, we look forward to
working with the city and the neighborhood on next steps.”

As a result of this site change, Greenstone also announced today that it has assigned the
purchase contract for the St. Luke’s owned and managed Shoreline/Americana properties to
two other buyers.

The property located at 1471 W. Shoreline has been sold to RDT Real Estate LLC, which owns
property adjacent to this location. The remaining property was acquired by Ameri Shore LLC, an
investor group.

“The Boise Sports Park has engaged and excited many of our residents,” said Boise Mayor David
Bieter. “We’ve long believed that a venue like this would be a great new downtown amenity for
all Boiseans. This is a new opportunity for a part of our downtown that has great potential and
we look forward to seeing the concepts Mr. Schoen and his partners bring forward in the
coming weeks and months.”

Boise arts dept. tries again for Vista art; which do you like best?

The City of Boise hopes to add public art to a series of grassy medians on Vista Ave. near the Boise Airport.

 

The project would put $147,000 in funding toward a series of art projects. The project will be funded from the Together Treasure Valley initiative and a Community Development Block Grant.

This is the second attempt to select a project. An earlier try was nixed by the Boise City Council after a similar public feedback process. The first round featured three local artists. The latest set of proposals do not carry the names of the artists, but at least one proposal references being "visitors" to Boise.

Three proposals have been selected, and the City's Department of Arts & History is asking for public feedback.

"The Avenue serves as a major gateway for many people; from the daily commuter to travelers from the Boise Airport. This structure will serve as an introduction, or welcoming entryway, to the Treasure Valley and even the State of Idaho."

Proposal 1: Transitions

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.50.01 PM.png

A series of four structures about 13' in height would be constructed in series over two blocks - between Malad St. and Targhee St.  Each would be made primarily of metal, with internally lit LED lighting and would represent the seasons. The top of each piece would rotate and sway in the wind.

Our four majestic sculptures are designed to stand out from their surroundings. Bright colors and gentle wind derived movements are intended to attract motorists’ and pedestrians’ attention from a distance and produce a momentary “wow” reaction of enjoyment and curiosity. Moving elements are purposely placed high up on the sculpture to avoid issues of safety and vandalism. These sculptures will be an identifying signature piece at the gateway to the city of Boise.

Proposal 2: Valley Gates

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A set of 12 gates made of metal would be built with heights varying from 3'9" to 13' would dot the medians. Each gate is designed to echo the foothills, plateaus and mountain peaks of the Boise Front. Each would be arrayed in a triangular shape with steel tubing.

Sculptural mountain peaks, plateaus and foothill formations are placed through the medians mirroring how the landscape transitions in the Treasure Valley and throughout Idaho. Mountain ranges and valleys are like waves that cross the state. A sense of geometry emerges from the movement through mountain landscapes and valley basins; a peak and a trough giving way to another peak.

Proposal 3: Elysian Currents

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.46.15 PM.png

A set of four aluminum sculptures designed to look like waves would be fashioned using a water jet tool. The sculptures would vary from eight to 11 feet in height and eight to 14 feet in length, and would be placed in series over the two-block stretch from Malad to Targhee. The pieces would be painted in bright colors - shown as blue in the sample drawings.

The purpose of this series is to provide a sense of place and identity for the Vista Neighborhood’s residents while functioning as a bright and welcoming gateway that celebrates the key arrival point into the City from the airport. In addition, the sculptures aim is to engage the public as it invites them to contemplate its colors and shapes. By day the sculptures will interact with the sun with its varying angles and brilliant colors.

Weigh in

You can tell arts & history leadership which project you like the best by visiting the project page and filling out the form at the bottom of the page.

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
PRESS-BRIEFING-LIBCAMP_Page_05_preview.jpeg

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 (!)

New downtown public park in the works: what do you want to see?

 Public feedback is being sought on design concepts for a new urban park planned for Downtown Boise, first reported late last year by BoiseDev.

Idaho Press notes the park will be adjacent to a new 10-story office building also being planned for the block between 11th St. and 12th St. on Bannock St. 

Here's some additional detail on the concepts:

Option 1

GGLO/City of Boise

GGLO/City of Boise

This concept would feature an event lawn, plaza area, parking for food trucks, portable stage and more.  A movie screen could be brought in for movie nights, and cafe seating would be available for food truck patrons.  Event space in this configuration could accommodate as many as 1,500 people. Trees currently on the site would be removed and replaced.

Some sort of "focal feature" that include a water fountain would work to draw folks in from Bannock St. and 11th St. Thirty-two surface parking spots would be retained, and surrounded by a grass berm.

Option 2

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 2.13.04 PM.png

This concept is similar to the first idea, but would orient the event lawn in a diagonal fashion, and would add space for some native plantings. In this layout, 1,200 people could enjoy an outdoor movie or on-stage event.

Focal features

Three types of "focal features" are being considered - including interactive art, a water feature or a fog/mist feature. Planners want the feature to be "iconic, interactive, unique and playful."

Both ideas could feature ammenities like free wi-fi, bike racks, charging stations, lawn games, restrooms and a place for Boise Green Bikes.

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You can make your vote here.

A Boise City Council workshop is set for June 19th at Boise City Hall. Approval could come this summer, with construction slated for spring of 2019.

Official plans for downtown stadium filed with City; see new renderings

Greenstone Properties took the first official step in making the Boise Sports Park a reality.

The development company's attorneys filed a rezoning request with the City of Boise this week, which outlines the project in detail and requests several parcels get new zoning designations to allow for the mixed-use project the group hopes to build.

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The total site is 11.65 acres in site, including the large former Kmart site (currently home to St. Luke's Health System back office functions) and several other locations nearby.

Boise Sports Park would be anchored by a multi-use stadium configured for both baseball and soccer as well as other events.  The venue could accommodate 7,500 fans for soccer and 5,000 for baseball

The project would also include 60,000 square feet of retail, 300 multi-family housing units, 700 parking spaces and 120,000 square feet of office space.

Two multi-family housing buildings are envisioned - the first would be located on Shoreline Drive and include 40,000 square feet of retail, 240 housing units and public plaza space. The second would be located along Americana in left field of the ballpark with 60 housing units.

A large office building would include 120,000 square feet of offices, plus "integrated event space on roof and balconies."

A parking deck would feature 700 stalls. The letter to the City of Boise emphasizes that many event-goers are expected to carpool to events, or park and ride to the site, and claims the on-site parking is sufficient to meet the venue's needs.

The project would also add a street-level festival-type area:

“Improvements to Shoreline between Americana and 14th to create a festival street, permitting its use for various public and private events connecting Multi-family 1, the Boise Sports Park and Greenbelt."

Geoff Wardle, the attorney who represented Greenstone at a contentious neighborhood meeting last week filed a large 29-page application letter. It goes into significant detail about how the project meets city goals and initiatives.

The document discusses the Blueprint Boise plan that governs growth in the capital city and devotes significant space noting how it complies with the principles and policies put forth.

“The redevelopment of a big box commercial site with a mixed-use project anchored by the Boise Sports Park and with ready alternative access to pedestrians and cyclists within the Downtown planning area satisfy all of these goals," the letter said.

Wardle also said the project meets the downtown-specific parts of Blueprint Boise

“Vibrant neighborhoods do not require cars to get everywhere. In the urban core of the Downtown planning district, Blueprint Boise recognizes that accessibility does not just mean parking; it means the ability to get to and from places by foot, by bike, by transit or by car. The site is unique in its location because it truly facilities the type of accessibility encouraged by Blueprint Boise.”

Both tax dollars and private contributions would fund the project. The Greater Boise Auditorium District, Capital City Development Corporation and City of Boise have all been involved in the project and could each contribute cash or bonding capacity.

The zoning request will head next to Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission, with a date not yet set.

Angry crowd meets Boise Sports Park rep at neighborhood meeting

Baseball games are usually calm, deliberative affairs.  

The first step in the process to build a stadium in Downtown Boise was anything but.

A crowd of several dozen people met with a single representative of Greenstone Properties Tuesday night, stirred up by Concerned Boise Taxpayers and others.

They weren't happy.

According to video posted by the Idaho Statesman, the crowd was heated and fired up - going many-on-one with Geoff Wardle of Spink Butler which is representing Greenstone.

(Editor's note: I wasn't able to attend since I'm currently working at Stanford. The account below is based upon the Statesman video).

One man shouted his frustration from just a few feet away.

"They've got a library that is waiting on $20 million of philanthropic funds to build it. You're going to build a stinking baseball stadium before you build a library? You don't give a damn!"

"I'd like to make the point that the traffic is already -- herr -- I can't even describe what it's like. You're going to get people going up Americana..." one woman yelled, while another woman drowned her out "in a single lane!"

The Greenstone rep responded calmly.

"First of all, there are multiple access points out of this neighborhood..." which was quickly drowned out by boos and jeers from the crowd.

Many in the crowd asked why Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was not in attendance, which may show a misunderstanding of the meeting from those in attendance. Wardle again responded by noting this is just a neighborhood meeting. The mayor isn't traditionally present at these types of meetings.

Many questions went unanswered as the crowd shouted over Wardle.  One resident calmly asked why the College of Western Idaho site that was considered for a time couldn't be used. Wardle wasn't able to answer more than a few words before being shouted down.

"CWI owns it and controls it. We explored..." And that's where it ended before Wardle was yelled at.

Resident: "Are you able to answer the question of why here. Why in the middle of the city?

Wardle: "Why not?" 

Another resident: "Congestion, traffic... "

Wardle: "Why don't we want a vibrant city?"

Third resident: "It's not a big enough city!"

And then, again the crowd devolved into boos and groans.

Wardle tried to press on.

"Why don't we want a vibrant downtown with proximity to the Greenbelt."

Fourth resident: "We have a vibrant downtown."

The crowd asked a laundry list of questions. Wanting to know why other sites were not considered. Worried about folks parking on the rim. And more.

"Baseball attendance is dropping like a rock. And no one cares about soccer."

Wardle: “Hawks baseball attendance is up 25% over the past five years. USL soccer is drawing between five- and ten-thousand fans for each site it currently has."

"How much money are you going to be making personally off of our property tax dollars being increased for a project that no one wants here.

Wardle: "Zero. I'm the attorney for the developer..." 

The crowd again shouted him down.

When folks asked about the lack of transit options, Wardle said he hoped residents in attendance would advocate for better bus and transit options.

"I'm not fighting city hall for you," a woman replied.

And on it went.

The next step for Greenstone if it decides to move forward will be to appear in front of Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission. 

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"

Albertson family foundation to fund new Boise bike park

This field will soon be home to a bike skills park. Photo courtesy City of Boise.

This field will soon be home to a bike skills park. Photo courtesy City of Boise.

A new bike skills park is headed for the area near Fort Boise Park.

The City of Boise and the JA & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation will team up on the new recreation site, to be located between Fort Boise Park & Military Reserve. A news release from the city says the park will feature "tracks, rollers and other skills elements for mountain bikes of all ages and abilities to learn and improve their skills."  The final design is still being worked out, but a plan like the McLaren Bike Park in San Francisco is envisioned.

McLaren Bike Park in San Francisco, CA

McLaren Bike Park in San Francisco, CA

“We are thrilled that the JA and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation is making a bike skills park a reality in Boise,” Boise Parks & Rec Director Doug Holloway said in a prepared statement. “Interest in mountain biking and recreational opportunities throughout our Ridge to Rivers Trail System continues to grow and our team will work to integrate this project into the surrounding neighborhood and reserve.”

The Boise City Council approved the agreement Tuesday, but a construction start date has not yet been set.

A public meeting is set for April 4 at 5:30pm at the senior center at Fort Boise to answer questions about the park.

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

bdev-vrt.png

 

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."

Plan for new Barber Valley park moves forward

Rendering Courtesy City of Boise

Rendering Courtesy City of Boise

A second large park in Boise’s Barber Valley is beginning to take shape. 

The Boise Department of Parks and Recreation is set to hold a neighborhood meeting on January 17th for the 20 acre park along the Boise River near Eckert Rd.

The park plan currently calls for baseball fields, basketball courts, volleyball nets, "picnic pods," and parking.  

ALSO READ:
Boise could see new riverside park if the "ifs" can be worked out

It is envisioned as a more sports-oriented park than the nearby Marianne Williams Park which is dedicated primarily to open space and trails.

The newest park would be named for Alta Harris.

A neighborhood meeting is set for January 17th at 5:30pm at the Library at Bown Crossing.

This story came from the BoiseDev Facebook group - join the community!

History’s history: Idaho State Historical Museum to change name, increase prices

Rendering of updated Idaho State Museum

Rendering of updated Idaho State Museum

When the extensive remodel and rebuild of the Idaho State Historical Museum is complete, you might not recognize the place - or its name.

Acting on the suggestion of a consultant, the Idaho State Historical Society will rename the renovated facility in Julia Davis Park as the Idaho State Museum.  

"Eliminate the term ‘historical’ as no longer adequate to convey what the new museum will be about," the report notes about the change in name. It also says the term "historical society" is "increasingly perceived as elitist and antiquated."

The building closed in 2014, with remodel work beginning in 2016. It is slated for a May, 2018 opening.

The museum will also nearly double the rate it charges for admission - from $5 to $10 for adults, and from $3 to $8 for students.  The museum's business plan says the higher-quality museum justifies the increased rate, and also says "free or low cost admission would be unfair to other museums and related institutions in the Julia Davis Park area and in Boise generally because the ISM will continue to have access to state operating funds not available to most other museums and related institutions."

Other plans include museum facility rental for events, a "major exhibit" every three years, and an increase in paid staff at the museum.

Read the full business plan here.

CCDC plans new urban park

Site of envisioned urban park

Site of envisioned urban park

The Capital City Development Corporation is looking for a contractor to build a new urban park on the site of a current parking lot in a growing area of Downtown Boise.

The park would be located on the same block as the El Korah Shrine - just south of the Boise Plaza building on Bannock Street between 11th and 12th. 

The land is set to be donated by longtime developer Rafanelli & Nahas - and would be funded in part by the City of Boise with CCDC managing the construction and design process.

The project is budgeted for $2.5 million - but the initial plan is estimated to cost north of $4 million, according to the request for qualifications document.  The project will be pared down to meet the lower budgeted amount.

Envisioned elements for the park include landscaping, a mist fountain, play features, public restroom, "high end furnishings," seat walls, vehicular parking and more - but some of these ideas could be cut to meet the budget.

CCDC executive director John Brunelle said his team is reviewing proposals from contractors. 

A preliminary timeline plan shows the park could be wrapped up and opened in early 2019.

Library! at Hillcrest to expand

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The Boise Public Library branch in the Hillcrest Shopping Center is set to expand, according to permits filed last week.

The neighborhood library will fill in a portion of the former Hillcrest 'mall' hallway that once gave access to smaller shops like Mike's Hillcrest Restaurant. The expansion will add 2,373 square feet to the existing library space, and and significantly increase occupancy.

The expansion will bring the library flush with the rest of the shopping center, and will expand available space for the Step Ahead non-profit college tutoring service.

The Hillcrest Shopping Center is also for sale - listed at $19.6 million.

News release: BSU won’t be part of stadium

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Boise State University issued this news release saying they will not be part of a hoped-for downtown stadium being built in part with tax money, and instead will focus on a stadium near campus. 

First, read the Boise State release. Then below read the City of Boise reaction.  

RELEASE from Boise State: 

 

  • BOISE STATE WILL NOT JOIN PROPOSED DOWNTOWN STADIUM PROJECT

    Boise State University will not be a part of the proposed downtown stadium project.

    Instead, university officials plan to construct a collegiate baseball stadium on or near campus.

    The university has been open about its interest in the idea of a shared downtown stadium since 2015, but Boise State President Bob Kustra said that in the end the question came down to the most efficient use of public dollars: It became clear that a long-term lease would be less financially prudent than a project that Boise State could either build or lease to own.

    “As a baseball fan, I support efforts that boost baseball in Boise and give our community a chance to enjoy the sport for years to come,” Kustra said. “I wish the Hawks and the City of Boise the best in moving forward. But my primary responsibility as university president is to make the best choices for the future of Boise State.”

    All along, Boise State officials have been clear that they have been open to the idea of a downtown stadium because of the opportunities it could provide for collegiate baseball — but that no arrangements had been finalized. The downtown stadium project remained one of the options the university was pursuing until this week. University officials called city leaders and others to tell them personally of the decision.

  • “We are in the middle of the hiring process for our baseball head coach, and an on-campus stadium will be a major selling point — both to the individual we ultimately hire, and to the future student-athletes that will be recruited to Boise State,” Athletic Director Curt Apsey said.

RELEASE FROM CITY OF BOISE: 

  •  Boise State would have been a natural tenant for the Boise Sports Park, so we are disappointed to hear that Agon Sports and Entertainment and Boise State were not able to reach an agreement. However, our independent analysis shows that the Boise Sports Park could be highly successful without Boise State as a tenant.  We are excited by the continued interest of the Boise School District and the other possible users of the sports park and will move ahead with the process to ensure that the project is a good fit for its neighbors and for the city has a whole. We wish Boise State baseball and women’s soccer a successful future.

     

Boise Hawks no more? City leaders push for name change

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A pair of city leaders hope the Boise Hawks will change its feathers.

BoiseDev was provided with a large trove of documents from Concerned Boise Taxpayers, obtained by the group under public records requests.

Correspondence this summer between Boise City Council member and CCDC board member Scot Ludwig and Greenstone Properties CEO Chris Schoen indicates the idea to "rebrand" the team is in the works.

Ludwig pitched names like the Boise Chukars, Boise Rapids, Boise Rocks -- and even Boise Sheepherders.  

Ludwig and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter spent time brainstorming ideas, according to an email from Ludwig to Schoen.

"Oh there were about 30 that the Mayor and I came up with. As you can imagine he liked the Sheepherders.....lol"

Ludwig quickly realized a conflict with nearby Idaho Falls on one name.

"There is already an Idaho Falls Chuckars (sic). Rapids!!!!!"

Schoen appeared to acknowledge the rebranding process and liked one of Ludwig's ideas.

"Rapids will be in the running!," he wrote. "The Boise Rocks is pretty good too (we're the Rockies affiliate). Keep thinking!"

Jeff Eiseman, president and partner at Agon Sports & Entertainment, a co-owner of the Hawks told BoiseDev a name change is a big if.

"We have had minimal discussion on that but it's been a few years," he said. "If and that's IF the club rebrands it would involve our fans involvement and not through an email. Those names don't seem like strong candidates."

Eiseman said a new soccer team could make it more challenging to also rename and revamp the Hawks.

"Ultimately the soccer team needs to be named and colors chosen. That's a lot of new branding if you throw in the Hawks."

"Any and all branding will include the most important voices: the fans/supporters."

A request for comment from the City of Boise went unreturned.  

Outdoor learning pavilion planned for Anne Frank memorial

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The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights has applied to add a new outdoor learning pavilion to the existing Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial along the Boise Greenbelt at 8th St.

The new 940 square foot pavilion would add a covered space to the now fully exposed memorial.

The 22 foot high structure would cost about $800,000 to construct

The shelter is part of a capital campaign that is nearing its goal, which would also include: "New human rights quotations inscribed throughout, a tribute to the late human rights advocate, Marilyn Shuler, and a new outdoor kiosk with short videos on the history of human rights in Idaho."

UPDATE: Dancing pixel display expanded

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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

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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.

Packaging a narrative: Inside the Boise Stadium push

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NEWS ANALYSIS

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter hopes a stadium will be built in his downtown.

In the past ten days, in coordination with public agencies in which he has control or large influence, a carefully laid out plan has rolled out to sell it to the public.

First, a carefully pitched story in the Statesman.

Next, a jolly public hearing.

Then, a Facebook post on the City’s public page (followed by misleading information, more on that in a moment).

On Thursday, a quick window of public feedback.

Precise. Tight. Simple.

It follows a pattern I've observed over the past year for projects that include the City of Boise, Capital City Development Corporation, Greater Boise Auditorium District and others.

Leaders toil very quietly for months - working hard to keep their work from public view.  When the time is right, they uncork the plan and move as swiftly as possible. Public feedback is generally nominal - and sometimes later presented in a misleading way. 

In a diminished media era with little to no scrutiny on City Hall and related agencies - it’s more straightforward than ever to move forward a preset agenda.

Public leaders do everything they can to avoid scrutiny before they are ready.

As readers of BoiseDev know, many stories and scoops are borne from public records. In fact, most are.

That doesn’t mean we don’t engage with spokespeople, business leaders and others - but good stories are more often found in public meetings and records than in “access journalism,” which comes from writing positive stories in order to get more tips and scoops  

I don't get a ton of access. In fact, I get the distinct impression some folks wish they didn't have to deal with the scrutiny. Sometimes emails go without response. I've been derisively called "our friend Don" in interagency emails, and had emails go back and forth with code like "DD" and "a local journalist" so the public records are harder to find. I've also observed evidence that officials are using their private emails to conduct public business.

That's all a bit agitating at times - but it's an easy reminder that journalists work for their readers and not for public officials whose salaries are paid with tax dollars.

After our initial story on the stadium last February, a member of the CCDC board and Boise City Council, Scot Ludwig, went to a another news outlet with full details on the stadium. 

The move startled folks with both of those agencies - with a flurry of emails traded back-and-forth essentially saying "it wasn't us." It also surprised the developer - who told me at the time he wasn't expecting the story.

I had inquired about the stadium, requested documents and been given very little information - due in part perhaps to coverage of the Boise streetcar and other municipal issues that took a more critical look than is often found elsewhere.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation say the story was rushed to another reporter because they were fearful of a more critical dig into the issue.

Extensive public records requests this year show public officials work to shield things from view, or decide how to frame them. When I began looking at a hush hush closed-door meeting with top business leaders on the stadium last month, I was not provided with documents but instead had to ask for them in a formal request. The City, by state law, can delay handing them out for up to ten days.

As soon as the request was made - a note went from the folks who handle the public records request to city spokespeople - cc’ed up to and including the mayor - noting the request came in and that they would “have to turn it over after ten days.”

The document existed and would have been an easy email forward.  But by working the mechanics of the process, they were able to keep the public in the dark until they were ready to run their plan.  

Back to that Facebook post.

Several commentors noted they weren't happy that tax dollars were being used.

The City of Boise official account noted "there will be zero impact on personal taxes."

This is untrue.

After I commented pointing this out -- noting that the $3 million comes from the City of Boise General Fund - an account which is made up of tax collections, the City backtracked.

"Don and David, our apologies if we came across misleading. Yes, the $3 million is from the general fund which does come from tax payer dollars, however, your taxes will not see an increase for this project."

Citizens will have to make up their own mind if public tax dollars should be used for a private development. But the only way this can happen is if leaders are forthcoming and honest.  

There are many additional angles to the Boise Stadium story that deserve public scrutiny.  There is a significant opposition group that is forming - and though its motives aren't fully clear, they appear ready to dig in and fight at a level perhaps unseen in local government in a while.

I'll keep digging. (And if you know something, I always appreciate your tips - don@boisedev.com is easy-to-remember!)

Edited to remove a couple of paragraphs that may have caused confusion.

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Increased air traffic prompts new gate at BOI

Crews are working to install a new jet bridge at the Boise Airport.

The c-concourse of the airport has traditionally been used for ground-loading only via a pair of breezeways out on to the airport's tarmac - with many Alaska Airlines flights being loaded via stairs.

"With the overall increase in air service, there has been an increased demand for gate space with a jet bridge," airport marketing manager Sean Briggs said. 

Courtesy Boise Airport

Courtesy Boise Airport

Alaska has added a Boeing 737 one one of its flights each day from Boise to Seattle, in place of the traditional, smaller Bombardier aircraft it flies out of Boise. 

"This jet bridge will give the airport more flexibility when dealing with larger aircraft," Briggs said. "It will primarily be used for Alaska’s mainline service, however can be utilized by other airlines, large charter flights and diverted aircraft.

The new gate will serve as C-11, at the end of one of the current breezeways.

The $900,000 project is funded by the airport's capital fund - and should be complete in October.

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)