“It’s the gateway to downtown – the front door to Boise,” so says the JUMP committee at last night’s Boise Young Professional Lounging series, where JUMP met mixed reviews. As one audience member said, “I am in favor of it and I can’t believe the Simplot Foundation has had to JUMP through so many hoops to make this happen.” But at the same event another participant reflected, “I really like the concept of JUMP, but I think there are some major gaps left to be filled.” Gaps indeed, and I agree.
JUMP seeks to be a lot of things to a lot of people. One of the more ambitious goals, and one worth standing behind is it ambition to house non-profits that don’t have a space of their own. However, there are still no details on how space is allocated, and how long non-profits can use the space. As one JUMP presenter member eagerly announced, “we haven’t figure out the details, but we really want to do it.” That’s funny because I really want to stand behind JUMP, but I just haven’t figure out how to do that either.
Yet, one audience member who works at a non-profit said that “”JUMP offers tremendous opportunity for community collaboration. It’s a very exciting project.” Shows what I know.
Really, though, JUMPS problem stems from a lack of definition. No one can really say what JUMP is. Mark Bowen, the project manager, told me that it means just take a chance. That’s a large piece of property on which to take a chance.
When you develop and office building, a retail space, or an apartment, you have a good idea of what it will be. JUMP can only answer that question through vague metaphors about risks and chances. Even their mission rings of the same trite mission statement you see at colleges across the country: “Creating an environment of inspiring human potential.” In this case, just substitute human potential for global leadership.
Perhaps that’s not fair. Mission statements always give off the air of being a little too metaphysical and a little too abstract, but everyone seems to value them, even myself. And JUMP offers good things. The outdoor amphitheater and the five working studios would be a wonderful addition to the downtown area.
Still though, the young professionals were striving for concrete answers, not abstracts. For example, Kathy O’Neil asserted that JUMP offered the ideal place for music performances. But when pressed about what made it ideal, she answered “size and the view.” While the view might be nice, I want to hear details about the acoustics of the space. Also, the view might easily disappear as the project grows out of their Phase I and into the Future Phase, which places restaurants, retailers, office buildings, or even a hotel along 11th Street and Front Street. What looks like trees on their scale model, may be office buildings in 10 years. But more importantly, when I go to watch a performance, I’m focused on the performer, not the trees outside.
One of the more unsatisfying answers came when Kelly Green, one of the many young professionals at the event, asked why JUMP is using Hoffman construction out of Portland and not a local company. According to O’Neil, JUMP needed to find someone with the experience of “out of the box” construction, but assured the audience that the agreement requires the contractor to use only local sub-contractors. Hardly a satiating answer. Why the city should take a chance when JUMP can’t take one on a local contractor.
JUMP is all vision and no definition, but I guess that’s their point.
Tucker is a member of Boise Young Professionals, but his opinions do not reflect BYP as an organization.