City officials are finally talking more than three months after Boise Weekly reported specialty grocer Trader Joe’s plans to open a location at 300 S. Capitol Blvd.
In a Thursday morning meeting, Mayor Dave Bieter confirmed the rumor to a group of Boise Young Professionals members, stating he learned late March 20 TJ’s is officially opening in downtown Boise. After Bieter made his remarks, Michael Zuzel, assistant to the mayor, sought to clarify the statement.
"Well, you know, I think the best that you can do is characterize that as a continued hope," said Zuzel. "Trader Joe's is the only one who can confirm Trader Joe's is coming to downtown."
When asked if Bieter did in fact tell BYP members TJ's was a sure thing, Zuzel wasn't sure.
"I don’t have it written down here in front of me. It may have been characterized as an extreme hope, or even a confident hope. In terms of confirmation, confirmation can only come from the company," he said.
A call to spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki confirmed the company will build a store on the southeast corner of Capitol Boulevard and Front Street, scheduled to open sometime in 2014, she said.
Boise Weekly readers first learned about the grocer's plans for Boise in December 2012, when we reported city officials had signed nondisclosure agreements regarding a tenant for an anchor location at 300 S. Capitol.
Previous Boise Weekly Story, reported December 12, 2012
Obamacare. Wolves. Immunizations. There are plenty of stories that have inspired our readers to light up the Boise Weekly blogosphere. But when BW reported that developers had their eye on turning a prime piece of downtown Boise real estate into a retail square (BW, News ,"Retail Square Proposed," Nov. 28, 2012) and that the prime contender for the space was Trader Joe's (BW, News, "Can You Keep a Secret?" Dec. 5, 2012), the floodgates flew open:
"My Christmas prayers have been answered."
"Bye bye Co-op."
"I think I just won a bet."
"Thrilled that TJ will be in that location rather than somewhere on Eagle Road."
But a particular daily newspaper (the one that just installed a pay wall for its digital content) insisted that its reporter was told that there were no plans about Trader Joe's coming to Boise. The Idaho Statesman said its source was indeed Trader Joe's.
That's probably the same Trader Joe's headquartered in Monrovia, Calif., that applied on Sept. 11 for a certificate of authority to operate in Idaho. And that's most certainly the same entity whose corporate vice president and treasurer, Sharon Drabeck, signed the application, triggering the Idaho Secretary of State's Office to deem that Trader Joe's was in "good standing."
"It's kind of exciting," said Kristi Perry, executive officer of SynEx Corporate Services. "At this point, [Trader Joe's] is incorporated to do business in Idaho."
Perry should know. Her company represents Trader Joe's legal and business interests in the Gem State, at least for now.
"Paracorp is [Trader Joe's] registered agent. Paracorp is a registered agent with a lot of different businesses," said Perry, referring to the California-based company which represents corporations and limited liability partnerships in all 50 states. "And we represent them in Idaho. We make sure that if any kind of legal transactions transpire, they would come through us first."
But first things first. Developers must navigate the Boise Design Review Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 12, with plans for the land at Capitol Boulevard and Front Street. Not until the committee grants a conditional use permit to the developer can the developer move forward with its purchase of the 1.7-acre parcel, which sees an average of 30,000 vehicles pass by each day. And not until the purchase is complete can the developer publicly acknowledge who its potential tenants might be.
In fact, Boise Weekly reported that a number of private and public officials had signed confidentiality agreements and weren't at liberty to say anything to anyone about practically anything.
But at least one official staff report from the City of Boise's planning division likes what it sees so far.
"Staff recommends this application be approved," wrote a staff report to the Design Review Committee. "[The project] complies with Boise City Zoning Ordinances and the design-related goals and policies of the Boise City Comprehensive Plan."
"If the City approves those plans, I would imagine that they would announce their tenants pretty soon after that," Capital City Development Corporation Executive Director Anthony Lyons told BW.
But for now, Christmas wishes will have to keep.
And Here's Another Previous Boise Weekly Story, reported December 5, 2012
Nobody's talking -- at least on the record -- but private developers and public planners have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements, triggering Boise's newest guessing game: Which store has its eye on a prime parcel of Boise real estate?
Here's a hint. The leading contender's initials are: T.J. Oh, heck, it's Trader Joe's.
Soon after Boise Weekly first broke the story (BW, News, "Retail Square Proposed," Nov. 28, 2012) that architects have crafted plans to turn a 1.7-acre parking lot, framed by Capitol Boulevard, Front, Sixth and Broad streets, into a square of four retailers, city officials and developers quickly closed ranks and didn't offer any details.
"I'm not trying to be coy, but I do have confidentiality on this," Scott Schoenner, partner at
Ranelli Rafanelli and Nahas Real Estate, owners of the land, told BW. "A developer made us an offer, which we accepted, and we're going through the due diligence now."
Developers have a Wednesday, Dec. 12, date with the Boise Design Review Committee in hopes of securing a conditional use permit for the property.
"We totally welcome this," said Cece Gassner, economic development assistant to Mayor Dave Bieter, who pointed to the recent evolution of the Front Street corridor from BODO to the newly opened Whole Foods Store on Broadway Avenue.
"That's an area that is truly ripe for development," Gassner said. "There are so many interesting parcels there and this is one of them. It's a gateway to the downtown, as well as that whole corridor leading down to Broadway. Anytime you see a parcel like that being developed, if lifts up the whole area."
But Gassner wasn't confirming any talk about Trader Joe's either. She did confirm that developers had already visited City Hall with nondisclosure forms in hand.
Developers also visited Anthony Lyons, executive director of the Capital City Development Corporation, but he said it wasn't his practice to sign any nondisclosures.
"So, they wouldn't tell me who the tenant was or wasn't. But I've got a pretty good sense of these things," Lyons told BW.
The developers' proposed blueprint for the largest of the four retail buildings -- approximately 13,060 square feet -- looks extremely familiar to anyone who has ever visited a Trader Joe's, the specialty grocer that has more than 350 stores in nine states, offering gourmet foods and its iconic Three Buck Chuck wine. The Boise designs reveal aisles, check-outs and huge coolers similar to the Trader Joe's footprint.
"Oh Lord: Please bring Trader Joe's to Boise. Whole Foods needs a plain but honest friend," tweeted a Boise woman at the @TraderJoesBoise Twitter account. Not to be undone, the Bring Trader Joe's to Boise Facebook page currently boasts more than 4,600 "likes."
"The developers have a site plan, and that plan is based on the tenants that the developers see going into those buildings," said Lyons. "If the city approves those plans, I would imagine that they would announce their tenants pretty soon after that."
That is, if everyone involved can still keep a secret.