Not even before Eighth and Main was complete, the Gardner Company announced plans to transform a surface parking lot–sandwiched between the Grove and the U.S. Bank Building–into a modern transit center, convention center, and 9-story office tower.
Here are the latest official renderings:
The ambitious $70 million proposal aims to begin construction later this year. They’ve not only secured many of the crucial permits required, but they also have Clearwater Analytics and multiple retail franchises lining up to occupy the buildings.
There’s loads of renderings and information publicly available through the Boise Planning & Development Services (PDS) online.
It goes without saying that this project has generated immense buzz, and for good reason: this project be the most game-changing development for downtown Boise in decades. It satisfies the need for a transit center, more convention space, and could trigger a new hotel in the future.
Plus after filling Boise’s infamous “Hole” the Gardner Co. has developed a track record for “getting s*** done.”
Except in Nampa, I guess.
One thing we haven’t seen too much of are some good context renderings. Seeing as there was plenty of data available to do it, I went on my 3D model and built City Center Plaza as best as I could. It’s important to take these with a grain of salt. A) It’s currently going through design review which usually lends itself to a few changes, and B) It’s a violation of the U.S. Constitution to build something in Boise without any brown, and I don’t see any brown… yet.
The view from the Aspen Lofts and BoDo Parking Garage:
Looking south down 8th Street:
Close-up showing its impact on the Grove. (Note: Shadow on Grove is from U.S. Bank Bldg, from satellite image)
Let’s take a breath. For better or worse the Grove is undoubtedly going to feel different. There’s lots I’m enthusiastic about:
- The added density
- The exciting design, especially relative to its surroundings
- Lots of glass
- We’re FINALLY getting a Transit Center
- And it’s underground, which I think is a smart, out-of-the-box decision.
- We’re also getting a high-quality Convention Center expansion right in the heart of the city. It should make the Boise Centre more competitive.
- 9-stories should be a good (perhaps the maximum) scale for this particular parcel while still keeping the area people friendly.
But then there are questions:
- How is this going to impact the Basque Block? Sure, there’s a pedestrian connection, but I can’t help but wonder how much, if at all, the CC’s sheer presence is going to psychologically sever the Grove-Basque Block connection.
- Is the presence of the building going to hurt the Grove’s open-space atmosphere? (Keep in mind it’s entirely possible, though not necessarily ideal, to build a second “Grove” in another part of downtown)
- What will be the impact of the buildings’ shadows, if any? (To be fair the U.S. Bank already casts a pretty sizable shadow over the Grove, and most events in the evening will have light coming from the opposite direction)
I did a quick before-after comparison showing the impact on the Basque Block:
Something really neat planned for that pedestrian corridor is the Signs of Our Times art project, seen in this Gardner Co. rendering:
I have to commend whoever thought of that idea. Simple, interesting, and helps create a sense of place.
Truth be told, I’m quite excited about this project. I’m trying to play devil’s advocate for the sake of fairness, and if I don’t I’m going to sound like a shill for the Gardner Co…
But from my vantage point: From what I’ve seen in the 3D model, and thinking about the jobs, the economic impact, and the big boost for street life, for alternative transportation, and as an amenity for visitors and people who live nearby; there’s far more to be giddy about than to be bummed about.
But I’d love to hear from you! Agree? Disagree?? Filafel??????