Take a Good Look 

JUMPing in to the public pool of opinion

Something officially known as project DRH10-0018 may be Boise's most buzz-worthy development. But in a few short weeks, that buzz becomes a bit more formal.

On Memorial Day weekend 2009, Idaho's Simplot family surprised the Treasure Valley with plans to turn a four-square-block area just west of Boise's BODO into something heretofore never seen. Since then, the community has come to know the project simply as JUMP, Jack's Urban Meeting Place. And of course "Jack" is the late J.R. Simplot.

The buzz instantly began, not waiting for the dream to turn into some kind of reality. When members of the Simplot family began initial meetings with Boise City planners in the summer of 2009, the project was lumped into the category of "mixed-use," limiting its perceived scope and complexity. The term "parkscape" was also bandied about, but a similarly labeled project in Los Angeles had little to nothing in common with JUMP.

In July 2009, Boise's Design Review Committee got its first official look at JUMP's initial draft. Outside City Hall, the buzz grew but inside, so did a few concerns. Rather than dramatically alter the dream, the Simplot family and its designers regrouped.

And now almost a year and a half after its announcement, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, JUMP will get its first public hearing before Boise's Design Review Committee. An Aug. 18 hearing was postponed because, as of press time, the Ada County Highway District was still awaiting a traffic analysis. You can look at the entire proposal in a meeting packet at cityofboise.org but you'll need some serious time to peruse it. There are nearly 100 separate files, each with its own documents.

JUMP has a current-market price tag of $70 million. Since last summer the grounds were redesigned to reflect Idaho's 10 ecological zones. The centerpiece is a seven-story structure incorporating a great deal of glass and modern art, including a tree house-like feature. Inside is a kitchen studio for cooking lessons, tractor exhibits, dance studios and space for inventors/creators.

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