EAGLE — In the 1990s, Cindy Greco would visit her father in Eagle, where he had bought a 27-acre gravel quarry.
At the time, Eagle was little more than farmland and horses. Over the years, Greco watched as the city grew up around her father’s quarry at the northwest corner of Hill Road and Horseshoe Bend Road, just east of Idaho 55 that he owned with his business partner, Myron Stahl.
As he drove her around town, Greco’s father would point out the homes going up on one-acre lots and the newly constructed golf course.
“Look, Cindy, this is going to be the nicest place in the whole Valley some day,” he told her. But he knew he wouldn’t be around to see it happen. “You’re going to have to develop this someday — and don’t screw it up.”
That has turned out to be harder than Greco imagined.
In part, that’s because her idea is so ambitious. It started out like this: After her father, Ray Dowding Jr., died, 11 members of the Dowding and Stahl families inherited the land. Greco took over managing the parcel. In place of the now-defunct quarry, Greco imagined building a shopping and restaurant hub not unlike the Village at Meridian. She wants a pedestrian-friendly, Main Street feel, with patios, a children’s play area and outdoor space.
The development, which she’s calling Quarry Village, would be high-end, she says: Concierge and valet services. An on-site performance space. Local restaurants and wine bars. And to top it off, she wanted 200 apartments and condos “at the high upper end of anything you’ve seen in Idaho.”
“I want to make it a place where families want to go hang out and where seniors want to live,” she said in a phone interview with the Statesman. “We could create an environment where people make memories.”
On a spring day last year, Greco toured Eagle, pitching her idea to families in the area. Moms gushed at the idea of a shopping center within walking distance of their kids’ soccer game. Kids wanted to know what kind of food Greco had in mind.
“I could ride my bike to Quarry Village, and there’d be ice cream?” Greco remembers one boy asking he with eyes wide.
She thought to herself: “By the time I get this built, you’re going to be in junior high.”
It could be even longer than that. Whereas teenagers and fellow Eagle moms may quiver at the thought of a Village in their town, investors are more cautious.
If Greco’s project is to be built, it faces some major hurdles.
First, her land is zoned for a business park. Eagle city planners told Greco they imagine a business park going in there — not another Village, and not condos.
Across the street in Boise, Richard Llewellyn, president of the North West Neighborhood Association, asks himself why Eagle zoned the land that way.
“We’re not really happy with how Eagle has been pushing the storage units and stuff they don’t want close to their residential areas closer to our residential areas,” Llewellyn said by telephone. Just across the street from Greco’s property, for example, farmland has been paved over for storage units.
“It’s positive to see more livable developments on that side of Eagle rather than the storage units,” he said. “But, of course, scale and traffic are going to be a concern depending on the size of the project.”
Traffic is on everyone’s mind.
Before Greco could pitch her idea to the city, the Idaho Transportation Department came back with more bad news. They told her she would need to widen Idaho 44 and Horseshoe Bend Road to accommodate the traffic that engineers predict the project would bring in and construct a high-capacity intersection at Idaho 44 and 55. Greco estimated the costs of construction at close to $20 million.
Developers are responsible for mitigating their impacts to the state highway system, including acquiring additional right of way.
“It was a blow,” Greco said. “I was the last man in and I just got stuck with it. We do want to make our fair share of contributions, but $20 million is way out of line.”
Greco doesn’t have $20 million. She said she has already spent $130,000 of personal and family money on architects, lawyers and land development consultants to bring plans before the council and ask for a rezone.
Investors don’t want to spend $20 million on this project, either.
So for now, the passion project Greco proposed a year ago is dead. Instead, she’s considering a scaled-down version of her original idea. It would still include shops and apartments, but perhaps with more office space to appease Eagle city planners.
This year, Greco hired local development consultant Dave Yorgason to help her put forward a new application to the city.
“The city has asked us to do an economic analysis to make sure that the project is viable,” he said. If the project is built, construction will be spread across multiple phases. “We need to come at it in smaller bites.”
Greco said an out-of-state brewery-slash-bowling-alley is already interested in moving into the project once it’s built. She’s not ready to talk about deals with anyone else just yet.
But Greco has also kept the land on the market A number of developers have called her with proposals, but few have piqued her interest.
“It could have been storage units 10 times,” she said. “We would have done well if we’d done storage units, but how boring is that? I want something that the people are going to enjoy.”
Greco is open to selling some of the parcels to other developers, but wants to keep the core for herself. Greco wants to build something there that she’ll enjoy, too.
“I’m planning on living there myself,” she said. “I want to live somewhere my kids don’t have to worry about me, where I can go out and have a few glasses of wine and not have to drive home.”
She lives on an acre right now in San Diego with her husband John, 63. An acre is plenty of land for two people to enjoy but a bit lonely for one. “A lot of women end up alone,” she said. “I see what happens. I want to provide that for other people.”
“I’ve put so much effort into this. Now I want to be there,” she said. “I want to be the crazy old lady that walks around and tells everyone that I built this. No one will believe me.”