Ruminations on a New Downtown Hotel: Part I

Looking at it simply as a measure of supply and demand, a new downtown hotel seems inevitable. In case you missed it, here’s a great Idaho Statesman article on the subject: “Why Downtown Boise May Be Ripe For More Hotels

Here’s the skinny: Fueled by the increase of business traffic resulting from the completion of 8th and Main and the soon-to-be-under-construction Simplot Headquarters, it stands to reason that a new hotel is on the way just from that alone. Coupled with the conversion of the Owyhee Place Hotel into apartments and the potentially upcoming City Center Plaza, the demand for hotel space in the future could seriously spike.

How that demand will be satisfied is up to developers and potentially the city if there is interest in pursuing some kind of public-private partnership often seen in other cities. We could see one large new hotel, or perhaps several smaller ones.

The most recent hotel proposal has been the Gardner Company’s 150-room concept for the 9th and River parcel, pictured below. This concept didn’t pan out as RMH+GGLO’s mixed-use condo proposal won the bid.

gardhotelBack in 2007, there was a campaign by John Q. Hammons to build a brand new Convention Center with a 10-story 250-room Marriott Hotel attached on the infamous two-block “Parcel B” between Front/Myrtle and 11th/13th. This concept fell through as the economy slumped and Hammons sadly passed away in 2013.



Back in the Statesman article:

Sooner or later, Rice said, the auditorium needs a major hotel — think 350 to 400 rooms — within a block or two of Boise Centre.


“The Centre needs a big hotel if we’re really going to deliver on that expected economic impact that we want,” Rice said.


Johnson looks at the issue from a different perspective. He likes the idea of several smaller hotels that together add more rooms in Boise as demand ramps up. It’s harder to fill a big hotel, he said, especially one that depends on conventions as its main source of guests.

350-400 rooms might seem like a lot, but before we jump to that conclusion I think it might be useful to take a look at similar cities across the country.

Spokane, WA:

As I mentioned on Tuesday, a 700-room hotel is currently under construction, as part of a major convention center expansion:

Albuquerque, NM

As part of a huge $345 million redevelopment plan, a 550-room Sheraton Hotel is being studied in addition to a 12,000 seat multipurpose arena.

Tucson, AZ:

A $167 million, 525-room Sheraton Hotel was proposed in 2009, but from what I’ve gathered the project has been postponed.

Omaha, NE

In Omaha, it’s not one huge hotel but rather a few smaller hotels currently being planned. A 157-room Hyatt Place recently opened, pictured below:

And then there’s also a 400-room Marriott Hotel in the works:

Des Moines, IA

City leaders in Des Moines are looking to invest in its convention center with a new $130 million hotel:

These are metropolitan areas that are as large or not a whole lot larger than Boise. If we’re serious about attracting major events, business traffic and conventions to our city, it’ll be good to look at the competition. In some cases it’s a little scary. Nothing we’ve seen proposed for Boise comes close to matching the scope of what’s being planned in the above cities. City Center Plaza could be the trigger that sparks a new hotel, and hopefully it’ll be attractive and suitable to the market. It does raise some questions:

  • Where would a new hotel go?
  • How tall would it be?
  • How many rooms?
  • Would the Hotel include any other kind of redevelopment?

In Part II, I’ll jump into the 3D model and produce some possible scenarios for what a new hotel in Boise might look like. Stay tuned!


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