When Boise City Council members meet for a work session on Tuesday, June 5, a review of growth scenarios compiled by the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho will take center stage.
That document includes four growth scenario maps as part of an update to regional transportation plans. Jobs, housing availability and variety, traffic, schools and other details factor into the planning group's figures.
Total population projected for the Boise Planning Area is expected to swell to between 301,785 and 336,505 people by the year 2040.
Forecasts for specific area neighborhoods include a projected shrink in Foothills neighborhood population, down from the 13,000 projected for 2035 to 9,900 for all four scenarios. Increases for the Central Bench and significant drops in the downtown and southeast populations are also included. COMPASS projects a drop in the 2035 forecast of 14,213 people to a range of 8,000 to 11,000 people.
The plan also forecasts a significant drop in jobs downtown across all four scenarios. The 2035 forecast was 70,983 jobs, above the 2010 estimate at 30,673. However, the 2040 forecast now shows a range of 42,346 to 47,298.
To see if there was anything behind the buzz, Citydesk dialed up Cece Gassner, assistant for economic development at the City of Boise.
“I haven’t heard this latest rumor,” said Gassner. “I do know that Trader Joe’s is always looking for new markets, and Boise is definitely one they are looking at because of the retail gap that we have in specialty grocery here. From time to time I know that they take a look at different places, but I am not aware that they’ve actually signed something or that they’re close to signing for any particular property.”
Asked specifically whether TJ’s might open a location in the now-vacant former Ridley’s Market space on Bogus Basin road, Gassner had this to say:
“I’ve heard they’re looking at [Ridley’s] just because it used to be a grocery store, so of course it would be something fairly easy for them to kind of step into,” said Gassner. “My understanding is that they’ve also looked at places that are out … closer to the mall just because of its proximity to 84 and the ease with which folks from Ontario and Mountain Home can get out here. So they’ve kind of looked all over, my understanding is that they’re sort of keeping options open.”
A potential drawback for Trader Joe's opening a local store, Gassner noted, is Boise's relative distance from the nearest distribution center.
"One serious issue … is the distance that we are from their closest distribution center," said Gassner. "So that’s something that, from a logistics standpoint, I know they are constantly going to be looking at, and I am not sure where they are right now, to be honest, with their decision."
Hal Simmons, planning director at the City of Boise, also hasn’t heard anything concrete about Trader Joe’s coming to town in the immediate future.
“Nobody’s talked to us about the site or about Trader Joe’s. I’m not saying it’s not happening but nobody’s come in and talked to us about it yet,” said Simmons.
Trader Joe’s couldn’t be reached for comment.
Last night's Planning and Zoning committee meeting chugged on for a good 90 minutes before commissioners began reconsidering the proposed downtown Whole Foods development.
With ample time to mull over conditional use permits and variances—or stare blankly at the majestic Native American-inspired carpeted wall mural jutting up behind the commissioners' heads—we decided to whip out some sexy P&Z haikus to keep things entertaining. Here are a few:
Christmas garland winds
around laptops, name placards.
Commission says, "Aye."
"Motion to reconsider.
Please ignore photos."
We disagree on
vinyl siding and concrete
but it's not over.
A public comment.
Quivering cottonmouth, cane:
"I will miss the pond."
“We’re ecstatic,” beamed Brad Schlosser, president of Schlosser Development, amid a sea of back-pats at the Dec. 6 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting. This was the third time in two months that the Austin, Texas-based developer had traveled to Boise to make his case for a proposed 35,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery and adjacent 15,000-square-foot Walgreens retail store, which would both occupy the vacant lot bordered by Broadway Avenue and Front and Myrtle streets.
Though initial requests to rezone the long-fallow 5.66 acre site from residential/office to commercial were shot down at an Oct. 4 P&Z meeting, the developers were granted a reconsideration on the grounds that they tweak their proposal to better comply with the River-Myrtle Plan, and apply for a special exception for the Walgreens drive-through instead of a rezone.
“The special exception … applies to a specific-use project, it does not change the range of uses allowed or the dimensional standards of the existing zone,” explained P&Z City Planner Cody Riddle. “The special exception is only required for the small retail building at the corner. The grocery store … is a conditionally allowed use.”
New plans presented at the Dec. 6 meeting by Schlosser’s Rick Duggan included a number of changes: a 10 percent decrease in surface parking spaces, reductions in parking setbacks, alterations to the Walgreens retail drive-through and a pedestrian node adjacent to Julia Davis Park to shield the buildings from the street.
“With its polished-granite boulders rising from shallow pools surrounded by evergreens and seating areas, this corner will become an important landmark for the surrounding community,” explained Duggan.
But one element that was not altered was a request for small (3-8 feet) variances from front and street-side building setbacks. Citing no obvious hardships, P&Z staff recommended denying the variances. But Schlosser explained their necessity.
“The hardship is the fact that we are proposing that we build the project in a phased arrangement … you would therefore push phase two into a situation where you would disorient the opportunity to build structured parking, the very essence of the vertical mixed use,” said Schlosser.
“Every foot counts here,” added Duggan.
Property owner Jim Kissler also assured commissioners that phase two of the project—vertical mixed-use retail and residential development—will proceed as planned.
“I’ll continue to own the 1.77 acres that’s going to be the space for future development,” said Kissler. “It’s got to go vertical for the amount of money we’ve got in the total lot.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the CUP and the variances, and to recommend approval of the special exception for the drive-through to City Council on the condition that both buildings are completed within six months of each other.
“The next step is to go in front of the Design Review committee … and to get the plans started so that we can start construction by the second or third quarter of next year,” said Schlosser.
In his lead to the recent New York Times story on boise's smog problem, William Yardley refers to Caldwell, in relation to Boise, as, "this high-desert capital and its outermost exurb."