Boise Downtown

Capitol Terrace to become "Main+Marketplace"

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Plans for one of the most prominent commercial projects in Boise are being unveiled.

Main + Marketplace will be the new brand for the retail part of the Capitol Terrace building at 8th St. and Main St. in Downtown Boise.

As BoiseDev first reported in November, an indoor market project is envisioned for the building's common spaces surrounding an escalator core facing 8th Street.

Updated renderings below:

 

Main + Marketplace is a 2-story retail center located in the hub of activity in downtown Boise on 8th Street between Idaho and Main Streets. 8th Street is commonly referred to as “Restaurant Row” with a number of great local and regional restaurant concepts, vibrant patio seating, and a hip day-into-night vibe. 8th Street also connects the offices in the central business district to the Boise Centre on the Grove, CenturyLink Arena and many nearby hotels. Accordingly, it is well traveled with significant pedestrian activity. In addition, there is vital hotel, office and residential growth in downtown Boise, all within 6-8 blocks of Main + Marketplace.

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. 

Wells Fargo to close Downtown Boise branch

The small Wells Fargo Bank branch near the Idaho Statehouse will close this summer.

Customers were notified this month of the pending closure - set for July 11th.  The small branch at 505 W. Bannock St. was acquired by Wells Fargo from First Security Bank in 2000.

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"This is not an easy decision or one that we take lightly," Wells Fargo spokesperson Julie Fogerson told BoiseDev. "We continue to evaluate our branch network and base our distribution strategy on customer trends, market factors and economic changes. In the case of our Capitol location, we’ve seen customer traffic decrease over time."

Fogerson said customers can use the Boise Main branch at 9th and Main in the future.

The company will close 300 branches this year - and will continue cutting physical branches as it says customers are moving to more digital means to manage money.  Fogerson could not provide specifics on if any more local branches will close. 

"However, we will continue to keep top of mind the needs of our communities and team members."

She said the number of branches could be down to "approximately 5,000" by the end of 2020. As of the 4th quarter of last year, the bank reported more than 8,300 physical locations.

Members of the BoiseDev Facebook Group found out about this story first. Join the conversation.

 

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

Bakery with New Zealand flavor set for Downtown Boise

Kiwi Shake & Bake has filed to remodel a space in the Afton according to permits filed with the City of Boise.

The 5,200 bakery and shake restaurant would be located on the corner of 8th St and River St on the ground floor of the first phase of the six-story condo project - near the Boise Library.

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On Facebook, the business says it will take inspiration from a popular destination south of the equator.

"Bringing the flavours of New Zealand to Boise. Offering you freshly baked meat pies, cakes, coffee and milkshakes."

A conditional use permit with the City of Boise has been approved - with indoor seating for 52 and outdoor spots for twelve people.  New foldable doors will go into the existing storefront windows.

St. Luke's asks for exemptions as it readies next phase of Downtown campus project

With road construction and other infrastructure work in full swing at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise, the next phase of its multi-year expansion is getting ready to launch.

St Luke's officials have filed plans with the City of Boise for a combined parking garage and central plant - to be located on a block bound by State St., 1st St., Jefferson St. and 2nd St.

It is also planning to build a new shipping/receiving building across Jefferson St.

The land  currently hosts about a dozen converted homes and other buildings used by the Health System for offices and various functions. Some of those buildings, like the Bishop Foote Guest House, are being relocated.

The buildings will be replaced with a six-deck parking structure 

The garage would be six stories tall plus two basement levels, and provide parking for 1,130 vehicles, the number pegged in a 2013 parking demand study commissioned by the hospital system. According to floorplans, it will also include bike storage for 20 cycles, plus a repair area and station for Boise GreenBike. It would be designed to connect to a future medical office plaza that would extend over 1st St.

Site plan. New buildings in blue. Courtesy St. Luke's Health System.

Site plan. New buildings in blue. Courtesy St. Luke's Health System.

The project will need a conditional use permit from the City of Boise. A hearing is set for May 7th at 6 p.m. at Boise City Hall in front of Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission. 

The hospital system is asking for two exemptions for the garage/central plant portion of the project:

  • The height of the garage tower exceeds City of Boise standards for the area by 15 feet due to the height of an elevator tower according to documents filed by St. Luke's and its architect. 
  • The building would also be positioned right up to the right-of-way along Jefferson St. and 2nd St - and part of 1st St.  City guidelines dictate a minimum 20-foot setback. The application letter says the encroachment is needed to fit all the needed equipment in and provide the desired amount parking on the block.
    • St. Luke's says if it isn't permitted to build the structure in the way it has outlined, it would require building up ten stories instead of six. "Making a change like this would likely decrease the efficiency of the garage and would increase time required to get in and out of the garage. Building lower than we currently are would be cost prohibitive, as we are already showing 2 parking levels below grade."

A second building next door on the block bound by Jefferson St., 1st St., Bannock St. and 2nd St. would house shipping and receiving - with rooms for trucks to load and unload equipment for the campus, to be distributed via a network of underground tunnels. SLHS is asking for setback variances for this building as well:

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  • 15 foot encroachment on 2nd St.
    • Requested to "accommodate the turning radius of the semi-trucks and compactor trucks."
    • SLHS says if this is not approved, it would have to flip the building - which would expose loading docks to 2nd St. It has provided a rendering. It also says flipping the building would require a "concrete drive aisle all along street front. The area available would not be adequate for a standard semi’s turn radius which would require smaller trucks making more trips which would dramatically increase the truck traffic on the streets.
  • 20 foot (full) encroachment on Bannock St.
    • Requested to "accommodate for the requirements of bulk medical gas storage." 
    • If not approved, SLHS says it would lose one loading dock, storage space and a generator set. "These would have to be relocated to a future expansion in another part of the campus which would add a level of complexity to the electrical system."
    • A St. Luke's spokesperson tells BoiseDev "(We) redesigned this to be a better neighbor by flipping the delivery area from the outside of the building along the street to the inside. This will quieter, and more attractive from the street, as the area facing the road will look like a typical St. Luke’s brick building."
  • 14-foot encroachment on Jefferson St.
    • SLHS says the City has indicated it is not as "concerned about the setback requirements for internal facing property lines." 

Country band Rascal Flatts set to open southern cuisine restaurant in Boise

Boise is about to get a country-fried restaurant with a high-profile pedigree, according to plans filed with the City of Boise.

Rascal Flatts Restaurant is planned for the City Center Plaza on the Grove - right next to the lobby entrance for Boise Center East.

The Rascal Flatts Restaurant location in Stamford, CT - a suburb of NYC

The country trio, comprised of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney have opened its first restaurant in Stamford, CT - and in recent weeks have announced plans or filed permits for additional eateries in St. Louis, OrlandoChicago, Pittsburgh and LA.

A building permit with the City of Boise would transform the vacant 6,412 square foot space into a restaurant with seating for 238 people. The full buildout is pegged at $1.05 million. The Boise location is more than twice the size of the first restaurant in Connecticut.   

The Stamford location opened last summer and features a bar and live performances - and a menu of southern cuisine. Selections include biscuits, brisket, shrimp & polenta, salads and more.

The venture was first announced in 2012, but took until 2017 to get off the ground.

LeVox, DeMarcus and Rooney have sold more than 10 million tickets while touring - and have seen 14 singles hit the top of the Billboard country chart.

Representatives for Gardner Co. and Rascal Flatts Restaurant Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rascal Flatts is slated for "Retail D" in the City Center Plaza - joining Buffalo Wild Wings, Gyro Shack and Dutch Bros in the development.

Rascal Flatts is slated for "Retail D" in the City Center Plaza - joining Buffalo Wild Wings, Gyro Shack and Dutch Bros in the development.

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"

City councilor/CCDC commissioner's building proposal turned down

Scot Ludwig has a very full hat shelf.

He owns a law firm. He serves on Boise City Council. He serves as a CCDC commissioner.

And he hopes to develop a pair of tall buildings in Downtown Boise. (Read here for details on the proposal).

Project rendering via Hummel Architects 

Project rendering via Hummel Architects 

Since BoiseDev first reported the plan early this year, Ludwig has encountered some bumps in the road. KTVB's Morgan Boydston reported a story on ethical concerns raised about Ludwig's tri-role as developer, CCDC commissioner and city councilor. The nascent Vanishing Boise group organized against the project.

Now, the Planning and Zoning commission has denied Ludwig's application for the project.

After a number of community members testified against various elements of the proposal, P&Z moved quickly to block the development.

Commission member Jennifer Stevens moved to deny the application. While she said she is excited about enthusiasm and glad there are developers with the resources to do projects - she had large concerns.

Photo courtesy Vanishing Boise

Photo courtesy Vanishing Boise

She referenced the city’s vision for 5th Street as a pedestrian corridor, and felt the parking structure Ludwig included was a problem.

“I’m really concerned with major access via a ramp, you blow that opportunity out of the water," she said. "You make it much harder to access one of our city’s best resources best amenities of Julia Davis Park.”

Stevens said the area “needs parking, no question about it,” but felt this location and the way it was integrated into the development were not appropriate.

Commissioners also felt the buildings were too tall for the area and denied the needed waiver.

The motion to deny the project was approved 5-1.  

Ludwig can appeal the decision.  His colleagues on Boise City Council would be the body to hear that appeal - with Ludwig presumably recusing himself.

CCDC hopes to sell parking garage, build new one

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

Courtesy CCDC

Courtesy CCDC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."

Vacasa to expand Boise space, presence

Vacation rental company Vacasa is increasing its Boise presence after a big funding round last fall.

The Portland-based company will move into the One Capital Center building this June, after a $2.3 million remodel of the second and third floors is completed.  The building at 9th and Main has been morphing after original tenant JR Simplot Co. vacated numerous floors for a new custom-built campus a few blocks away last year.

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Vacasa will take up 35,000 square feet and will be moving all Boise-area employees to One Cap.

"The new space will accommodate Vacasa's growing team in Boise," CFO Ryan Vestal said. "We have currently 115 employees in Boise and have 11 open roles which can be found on Vacasa's career page."

The new space will bring the Boise team together and allow for future expansion.

"Vacasa's Boise team has seen a lot of growth in the last year," he said. "As our team continues to grow, we need a space that can grow with us."

Vacasa completed a $103.5 million "series B" funding round (jargon for a second round of investment in a company) in October as it continues to grow in a space dominated by Airbnb. Vacasa provides a managed-service approach to home rentals.

Corrects number of Boise employees and date of series B funding. Also adjusts attribution of quote.  

Grab a kalimotxo (and more) at new Downtown joint Txikiteo 

Just in time for Treefort, a new coffee, wine and tapas restaurant is set to open in the new Watercooler building at 14th St. and Idaho St..

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Txikiteo means "pub crawl" in the Basque language - and should be open in time for Treefort.  It will feature about 800 square feet of space and is brought to you by the folks who operate the Modern hotel and bar.  It will be headed up by Chef David King and Dan Ansotegu. 

From Food & Wine Magazine:

In conjunction with the Modern’s owner, hotelier Elizabeth Tullis, another Basque descendent of the boarding house tradition, the chic new tapas and wine bar will offer an array of Western European fare, about half of which will be Basque influenced, including some old Ansotegui family recipes like Epi’s chorizo.

So how exactly do you pronounce Txikiteo? Let's go to the videotape:

New deli slated for former Bleubird space

lemon-tree.jpg

With the closure of downtown Boise sandwich joint Bleubird last month, the space won't stay vacant for long.

Lemon Tree Co. will start making sandwiches and lemonade in time for the Treefort Music Festival in March, co-owner Mayra Ruiz said.

Ruiz and Jasson Parra have teamed up on the venture.  Parra is the former area manager for Freddy's Frozen Custards, as well as the founding general manager of the Idaho Yard House franchise at the Village at Meridian.

"We are very excited about this new venture - opening an artisan sandwich shop in the heart of the revival of downtown Boise, and building on the strong reputation and following this location has had," Ruiz said. She said the restaurant, like Bleubird, aims " to offer innovative sandwiches and lemonades, made with quality ingredients, in a great setting while providing exceptional customer service."

Ruiz says the menu is still being developed, but they have several concepts they hope to launch:

  • PB & JJB: Peanut butter, cherry preserves, applewood bacon, and roasted jalapeno
  • Yam & Cheese: Roasted sweet potato, pickled beets, pickled red onion, whipped goat cheese, greens, and sumac vinaigrette
  • Beet Salad: Roasted beets, pickled onions, goat cheese, arugula, pistachios, and balsamic vinegar

On the lemonade side, they will serve up options like blood orange and blackberry sage.

BoiseDev first reported on Bleubird's closure last year.

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New craft sandwich restaurant opens downtown

 

Here is what’s up with the old Baldwin Lock & Key/Sav-on Cafe building

Demolition work is underway inside the former Sav-on Cafe/Baldwin Lock & Key building at 16th St. and Main St. in Downtown Boise.  

 Building permits show crews are working to combine the two spaces and remove all interior finishes (what’s known as a “vanilla shell”). 

Building owner Bill Snyder tells BoiseDev he is “entertaining a number of options” for the space, but doesn’t have anything to announce just yet.  

The Sav-on closed in 2013 after nearly 70 years in business. Baldwin moved to Garden City in December. 

Google Street View screenshot

Google Street View screenshot

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.

Bagel joint with split personality planned for Downtown

Courtesy PRCR

Courtesy PRCR

Consider the strange case of a bagel bakery by day and a bar by night. 

The old Pita Pit on Main St. in Downtown Boise is about to get a new personality - a split personality.

Jekyll & Hyde is slated for 746 W. Main St. next to the Egyptian, where the Pita Pit franchise pulled up stakes last summer.

According to a creative brief posted by a Spokane ad agency, Jekyll and Hyde Bagel Company will feature bagels and the like in the morning - with music, drinks and greasy bagel sandwiches at night.

But much like Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel - Jekyll & Hyde will actually be one person, er -- restaurant.

Marketer speak:

The brand and identity of Jekyll & Hyde takes on a professional, clean-cut aesthetic that changes to a wild and deviously fun feel. This represents the J&H concept of changing it’s (sic) personality and offerings from open to close. We’ve created a fluid brand with marks that work in a variety of shapes and sizes. Complete with a bright, contrasted color palette that envelopes both a professional and lively feel, the brand in it’s entirety appeals to an adult demographic that is professional by day and knows how to let loose after hours.

No filings with the City of Boise to remodel the space just yet.

Someone bit a face out of my bagel. Courtesy PRCR

Someone bit a face out of my bagel. Courtesy PRCR