At State of Downtown Boise Address, Mayor Bieter Praises Progress, Teases Development 

click to enlarge Boise Mayor Dave Bieter talked about Boise past and future development at the 29th annual State of Downtown Boise address.

Harrison Berry

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter talked about Boise past and future development at the 29th annual State of Downtown Boise address.

The Downtown Boise Association has hosted its annual State of Downtown Boise meeting for almost 30 years. This year, on April 20, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter spoke to city officials, the Capital City Development Corporation, DBA and business stakeholders about his (literally) expanded vision for downtown at the Boise Centre on the Grove.

"Downtown is really the Whitewater Park to St. Luke's—the Boise River to Fort Street," Bieter said.

Within that area, he said, movers and shakers have created education opportunities, expanded transportation access and broadened the city core's cultural horizons.

Big developments include an emerging partnership between the Boise State University Computer Science Department and Clearwater Analytics that will come to fruition with the completion of the Clearwater Building in the Boise Grove, and College of Western Idaho's purchase of land near the Boise River on which it will build a downtown campus.

Boiseans, Bieter said, should "expect news in the coming months" about changes at the Boise Public Library, which he said sees as many as 4,000 visitors per day at its various branches.

An expansion of the Broadway Bridge will soon more efficiently connect downtown with South Boise and the Bench neighborhoods, and plans are in the works for a downtown circulator to move people from one end of downtown to the other to "maximize choice" in transit.

The perceived conflict between motorists and bicyclists that has dogged a city-wide conversation about improved bicycle infrastructure has to end, Bieter said, but that infrastructure is on its way.

"We have to have protected bike lanes downtown," he said. "We simply must."

Meanwhile, Boise has experienced a cultural renaissance in recent years, in part because of events like the Twilight Criterium, Jaialdi and relative newcomer Treefort Music Fest. To add fuel to that fire, the city has been taking measures to encourage Boiseans to live, work and play closer to the action, with a goal to add 1,000 housing units in the area by 2020. The latest addition: a world-class skate park set to open near the Boise Connector on Saturday, April 23.

Reinvesting in public spaces, the arts and mass events, Bieter said, is a driver of growth and shows off Boise as a vital cultural and economic center, adding he'd like to see the next Jaialdi held downtown and a sports stadium developed nearby.

"We've got some great ideas and a willing partner in the [Boise] Hawks' owner," he said.
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