In 2011, office construction in Boise and elsewhere in Idaho was at a standstill. Many workers left the state, or trained for other careers.
But things turned around fast after the Gardner Company took a gamble at the corner of Boise’s Eighth and Main in 2012. Gardner replaced the infamous Boise Hole with a 390,000-square-foot 18-story tower on a corner that had been vacant for 25 years.
Eighth and Main’s success seemed to spark a chain reaction. Local Construct, a Los Angeles firm, got to work renovating the historic Owyhee Hotel into a mixed-use project, adding 36 condos, 45,000 square feet of office space, retail, meeting and banquet space, parking, and a ground-floor restaurant. That project opened in 2014.
Gardner bought the U.S. Bank building nearby and turned the downtown parking lot across the intersection from Eighth and Main into the Clearwater Building, with offices for Clearwater Analytics, Boise State University’s Computer Science Department, convention center meeting space, and an underground bus terminal for Valley Regional Transit.
Gardner is now working on more office space and a hotel on a nearby downtown block known as Parcel B. Meanwhile, Kount, a homegrown cybersecurity company with 100 employees, plans to renovate and move into a 35,000-square-foot, four-story office building variously known as the Langroise Building, John Alden Building and 10th and Main.
And this winter, the J.R. Simplot Company is completing the move of 800 people into its huge newly constructed headquarters at Ninth and Front streets. The complex includes one 265,000-square-foot building and an annex with 60,000 square feet including a cafeteria, auditorium, laboratories and a rooftop greenhouse for Simplot’s plant sciences division.
Meanwhile, as St. Luke’s Health System moves into the spacious Washington Group Plaza complex on the east side of the downtown area, the tenants there will be looking for space elsewhere in town.
And that’s just downtown Boise. Nearby, Boise State has been an office space industry unto itself, completing work on its 118,890-square-foot College of Business and Economics building in 2012, finishing the 40,107-square-foot Alumni & Friends Center building that includes offices, and starting work this year on a Fine Arts building nearby. In Idaho Falls, the Idaho National Laboratory has thousands of square feet of new office space planned, and Oppenheimer Development is working on a mixed-use office development at the gateway to that city. Chobani, Glanbia, Clif Bar, and other big companies in Twin Falls have all constructed office space as part of their new construction and expansions.
And in Meridian, a large office development is underway at the 75-acre Ten Mile Crossing site. Benefits administrator AmeriBen became the first tenant at Ten Mile Crossing in August upon completion of its new, two-story, 76,000-square-foot office. Human capital management company Paylocity will fill 64,000 square feet, and Horrocks Engineering will take another 12,900 square feet in a five-story second building finishing up in June.
It was a tenant’s market in 2011, and now, despite all the new construction, it’s something of a landlord’s market, especially when it comes to Class A office space. Real estate brokers in Boise say many of the tenants they’re working with are existing companies that are growing larger and are leasing space neighboring their existing locations. They expect many companies to stay put while they assess the market and look for ways to include parking for staff.
You’ll learn about the Idaho office market and more in this issue of Square Feet. Staff writer Teya Vitu talks in detail about the large-scale plans at Ten Mile Crossing, and in another piece he delves into the downtown parking challenges that come with denser office development. Staff writer Sharon Fisher looks at how planners are tackling the issue of public transit.
We recently received confirmation from the U.S. Census that Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the nation. We’re witnessing an extraordinary period of expansion and change. In Idaho’s more urban areas, the physical manifestation of that change is the office space where some of the state’s most energetic thinkers and doers work to move the state forward.
Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.