Downtown Boise’s $340M transformation: ‘It’s just the beginning’

Chloe Baul//September 5, 2023

Downtown Boise’s $340M transformation: ‘It’s just the beginning’

Chloe Baul//September 5, 2023

Hotel Renegade, a planned eight-story, 122-room boutique hotel currently underway. (IBR photo).

Downtown Boise is buzzing with construction activity that officials say will have long-term benefits but also short-term headaches.

Projects include a blend of hotels, mixed-use residential spaces, and new streetscape projects that are expected to enhance downtown biking and walking experiences. This transformation is expected to unfold over the next 12 to 15 months, and according to Tim Keane, director of planning and development at the City of Boise, things are just getting started.

“Downtown Boise is at the cusp of a significant transformation, and it is just the beginning,” Keane said. “And this transformation will continue in the coming years.” 

These new projects are set to transform most of downtown Boise’s previously vacant surface parking lots into community spaces. Despite the temporary disruptions caused by the construction, Keane emphasizes that the long-term benefits of revitalizing the downtown area make the inconveniences worthwhile.

“The more people living and working in downtown Boise, the better,” he said.

Boise’s new zoning ordinance has played a pivotal role in facilitating this vision by encouraging heightened density and increased building heights, all while doing away with mandatory parking requirements. Central to the city’s strategy is a vision of downtown Boise that is denser, more vibrant, and pedestrian-oriented. 

“The new zoning code does not require any parking anywhere downtown,” Keane added. “It gives builders more flexibility to build more apartments or office space or businesses without having to devote so much space and money to parking.”

As expected, the significant ongoing downtown construction is impacting parking and access for specific businesses. In the vicinity of The Record Exchange, for instance, over a dozen parking spaces are unavailable.

Jennifer Hensley, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association (DBA) addressed concerns about the impact of construction on local businesses, acknowledging that certain fluctuations have occurred. 

“[The construction], of course, has brought issues for the businesses that are just right there within those footprints,” Hensley said. “A lot of it involves the public trying to figure out how to get to these places—the access is there, it’s just not as easy as it once was.”

As anticipated, the substantial ongoing construction in the downtown area is having an effect on parking and the ability to reach certain businesses. (IBR photo).

The DBA has taken a role in facilitating collaboration among the city, property owners, and contractors. According to Hensley, a meeting brought these stakeholders together to discuss challenges and enhance communication. So far, this approach has proven successful, she added, as these ongoing conversations will help to ensure a seamless process to minimize inconveniences for businesses and visitors as downtown Boise continues to grow.

“All the way down to the contractors that are building these projects, everybody wants this process to be as painless as possible,” Hensley said. “It is painful right now–there are those pinch points, and we have to get everybody through this. But in a couple of years, it’s going to be fantastic to have a whole set of new community members that are downtown 24/7 who are going to be patronizing all of the businesses in that area, and the tourists as well.”

Some key downtown Boise projects that are currently underway:

The Broadstone Saratoga – 1210 W Grove St 

Planned seven-story mixed-use building with 334 units and ground floor commercial space. Encompasses a full city block in the River-Myrtle Old Boise District, bounded by 12th and 13th Streets to the east and west, and Grove and Front Streets to the north and south. Developed by Alliance Realty Partners, LLC based in Seattle, marking their first Idaho project, expanding their portfolio of Pacific Northwest multi-family projects.

12th and Idaho – 120 N 12th St 

Replacing a 24,000-square-foot surface parking lot with a 420,000-square-foot, 26-story mixed-use building featuring 298 residences, ground floor retail space, and structured parking. Residential options include studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units at market rates. Developed by 12th and Idaho LLC, aiming for Green Globes certification. Joint venture between White Oak Realty Partners, Ponsky Capital Partners, and Oppenheimer Development Corporation.

The Sparrow – 1070 W Grove Street 

Proposed boutique hotel renovation of the former Safari Inn at 1070 W. Grove St. Encompasses a 35,000 square-foot area with 61 renovated rooms and seven new additions. Features a lobby coffeehouse and permanent food truck for guests and the public. Shared outdoor seating and retail plaza at 11th Street and Grove Street. Developed by Imperial 700 LLC, a Nest Partners subsidiary.

Hotel Renegade – 1110 Grove St 

Planned eight-story, 122-room boutique hotel, around 120,000 total square feet. Estimated $68 million development cost, offering lodging, dining, and accommodations with meeting spaces, fitness rooms, and dining facilities. Project by Hendricks Commercial Properties, LLC (HCP), a national real estate developer with a diverse portfolio.

Public Space – 521 Grove Street 

12th Street intersection at Grove St closing for 2 months from August 28 for Rebuild Linen Blocks construction. Streetscape and roadway enhancements between 10th and 13th streets, including new storm drain line on Grove St from 13th to 12th St. Temporary traffic closures in effect through October 27. Pedestrian access to local businesses maintained.

11th Street Blocks Rebuild – Front Street to Idaho Street

The project involves essential roadway reconstruction, replacement of old canal structures, and creating a protected bikeway from State Street to River Street. Economic growth and downtown connectivity will also be enhanced, according to the CCDC. 11th Street, from Front St to Main St, is set to reopen by the week of August 28 after final preparations. Ongoing construction will continue with concrete pours between Main St and Idaho St for the next three weeks.

More protects and details on ccdcboise.com