Apr. 29, 2016

Urban, hip Boise defies potato jokes and other Idaho stereotypes

When I visited Boise recently, I found the capital of this state with a reputation for root vegetables to be a hip and happening place, easily dashing many people’s notions about Idaho. Its progressive, Basque-heritage mayor set out 12 years ago to make this America’s most livable city, and it shows, in the prospering downtown, beautiful parks, and a lively arts and cultural environment. How many cities this size (pop. 216,000) have their own arts office?

There’s plenty to attract a young and energetic populace: miles of bike trails, a hometown ski hill (Bogus Basin), a burgeoning craft-brewery scene, even — yes — a surf park, where a diversion structure on the Boise River can be adjusted to make white water for surfers, kayakers and so on. Go ahead and say it: Surf Boise.

Apr. 12, 2015

Gardner’s next big idea for Downtown Boise: A big hotel. And maybe a soccer stadium.

A lot of dominoes fell into place over the past two years to make the Gardner Co.’s new Downtown Boise project possible. First, the economy has been recovering from the Great Recession. Gardner finished the Eighth & Main building, Idaho’s tallest structure, early last year.

A few months later, the Utah-based developer started construction of City Center Plaza, a project whose plans include office, restaurant, meeting and parking space, an underground bus station and an expansion of Boise Centre, the Greater Boise Auditorium District’s convention venue.

Now, Gardner COO Tommy Ahlquist has fixed his eye on Parcel B, the five acres immediately west of the JUMP lot. Ahlquist said he’s sure Gardner will build a 300-room, full-service hotel on Parcel B.The other thing he wants, but is less sure of, might be more impressive: a stadium with up to 5,000 seats that would be the home field for a future Boise minor league soccer team.