Construction is the new normal for downtown Boise, from the building of Simplot's JUMP, the raising of the 8th and Main tower, the renovation of the Owyhee, the installation and removal of buffered bike lanes, and now, Gardner Company's largest project yet: the new City Center Plaza.
The Grove filled with a couple hundred people who watched as Gardner Company made their official announcement this morning. Beside the stage, a giant sign depicted the future of the Grove: a nine-story building with office space for Clearwater Analytics, classrooms for Boise State University, and commercial space for shops and restaurants; and a five-story building for convention space and retail. Beneath the Grove will be a multi-modal transit center center.
Chamber of Commerce member Ray Stark stood before the sign, animatedly explaining what buildings will go where. Former first lady of Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Patricia Kempthorne, listened closely.
"My husband broke ground for this first convention center," Kempthorne said, referring to the Boise Centre. "That [convention center] was the start. It was a huge change back then, in 1989, and now this will be, too."
Today, everyone had their backs to that building. The new plaza will change more than the Grove; several people in the crowd said they'll feel the change in their own lives.
For A.J. Adams, it means a new office. He's a 25-year-old "I.T. guy" at Clearwater Analytics. Right now, half of his company's offices are in the Banner Bank building and the other are in the same building as D.L. Evans.
"No more having to walk across the street when you need to talk to someone," Adams said. He's looking forward to a balcony on the building that will overlook the Grove, and events like Alive After Five. But for the next two years while the Grove is under construction, Adams has to find another bike route.
"Since the bike lanes were taken out, I started riding through the Grove," he said. "Not anymore."
Also straddling a bike and "witness[ing]" the groundbreaking was Steven Ziegler, an employee at the Taphouse, across Main Street from the Grove. He said the development will change the downtown area in a good way for business owners.
"It will bring more business to the Taphouse," he said. As far as the construction goes, "What's new? We're used to construction. It took them awhile to build the Zion Bank building, too. It's nothing new for the downtown area."'
Randy Miller also hopes for more business from the new development. He started the Boise Pedicab Company, a rickshaw service, last year. He said anytime there's restaurants, that means fares.
But he didn't realize how big the new development is, and the Grove is one of his best pockets of customers—"kids and grandparents."
"This is a really nice area," he said, scanning the plaza, picturing the changes. "But the mayor is a good man. He cares about us."