Part III of Ruminations will go online today, but until then here’s a big development update:
On Wednesday night Boise’s Design Review Committee approved City Centre Plaza, which includes the new Clearwater Building, Transit Center, and Boise Centre Expansion building. At the meeting, which I was unfortunately unable to attend (*shakes fist at finals*) of those who attended there was mostly support for the project. One notable exception was Patty Miller, representing the Basque Block. There’s a great article in the Boise Weekly and Blue Review detailing the controversy that City Centre Plaza has generated from neighbors at the Basque Block.
There were some minor, standard conditions of approval:
- Mitigation for the removal of mature trees
- Determine appropriate quantity and location of bicycle racks along Main St. and Capitol Blvd.
- A later Design Review Committee meeting discussing exterior materials, landscaping, etc.
My view: I completely understand and respect the concerns of Patty Miller and those at the Basque Block. It’s an unfortunate situation. So much hard work has been put into trying to build a transit center and convention center expansion over the last 10 years, and until City Centre Plaza it’s just been failure after failure after failure.
But I guess I’m just not convinced it’s going to have the negative impact on the Basque Block that some think it will. The Basque Block is still right in the heart of downtown, and that’s not changing. It will still be very visible from downtown’s chief gateway, Capitol Blvd. And the block will still offer something that you can’t find anywhere else downtown. It isn’t as if the current Grove-Capitol connection is a beautiful gateway as it is–It’s a narrow corridor with minimal lighting flanked by a surface parking lot and the oppressive blank wall of CenturyLink Arena. I go through the Grove at least twice a day, every day of the week. In my personal observation of the four pathways to the Grove, it seems to be the least-used.
The biggest concern I have lies in the impact on the Grove. It’s undoubtedly going to feel different–far less open–than ever before. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but change can be scary. It’s why even if disagree a little bit, I completely understand where Patty Miller is coming from: So much hard and impassioned work has been put into making the Basque Block one of Boise’s jewels. This is a big change that will have a wide impact on everyone downtown.
In the big picture I just happen to think the impact will be more positive than negative. What say you?