Why Ruin Our Nice Town

The local politicos are at it again trying to make Boise a big city by filling in every square foot of space they can fill to include that ill advised convention center plan.

Narrow streets and limited space are not conducive to massive public buildings. We don’t have the broad avenues of Paris or Buenos Aires or even the wide streets of Austin, Texas. We are small town at least in scale and should make the best of it…live within our means.
9th July Ave.jpg

The Greater Boise Auditorium District made the front page of the daily paper yet again with plans to build a convention center the voters and a private developer have turned down. The daily paper headline asks WHERE a convention center will be built and the real question is IF it will be built. The sub headline mixes west with east which is appropriate since NOBODY has offered a clear direction on the issue.

The broad open spaces along the 9th of July Boulevard in Buenos Aires look better all the time.

The G-BAD boys are rushing to meet a Tuesday deadline to have “something” started on the parcel between 11th and 13th bounded by Front and Myrtle Streets. The entire area presents a nightmare of competing plans for anyone who cares about our town.

Most of the land is owned by the J.R. Simplot family in one form or another. The Foundation, headed by Scott Simplot, wants to extend Broad Street to the west, essentially cutting the parcels in half with a new Discovery Center at the base of the freeway ramps at 13th. They envision shops and restaurants along a pedestrian corridor.

The G-BAD boys are happy with their site for a convention center, don’t want it cut in half to create a “bowling alley” and will fight for something that is without support of the community.

Mayor Bieter and his Team Dave want to move the proposed site to 9th and Front diagonally across from the existing Center on the Grove. He wants to use CCDC bonding authority to issue bonds the citizens refused to approve for the G-BAD boys.

Of the three concepts we see on the table, Scott Simplot’s idea of a pedestrian area with an expanded Discovery Center as an anchor sounds best for our city–without a new convention center.

Tall buildings and massive structures on small lots crowd our city and create a claustrophobic sense of “big city.” Downtown will always be a small town no matter how tight you cram it full of buildings.

If you have a small living room, it doesn’t get any bigger with more furniture and a bigger TV set.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. “People aren’t going to walk around a big monolithic building to go shopping or live on the other side. It doesn’t work that way,” said Bodo developer Mark Rivers in today’s Statesman, referring to a 9th ST convention center.

    Especially if it’s in the hot sun along a narrow sidwalk along busy Front or Myrtle ala the Grove Hotel’s sidewalk.

    I agree with Rivers, unless a 9th ST CC is built over a Broad St extension creating a nice shady tunnel to walk thru with small spaces continously rented out on the sides. However, a bisected CC seems silly. And we still have a truck ingress/egress problem.

    One thing is for sure, the three large lots west of Bodo to 15th Street need to be part of a comprehensive plan–M. Rivers words again. A person the Guardian might respect, since Rivers built Bodo with private money, although I’m not sure if he got one of those CCDC breaks.

    We only get one chance to get this right—-again paraphrasing someone else, uh, Popkey, I think

  2. Bodo…Thats another thing I can’t stand about downtown. It’s the stupidest name, what happened to 8th Street Marketplace?

  3. Bodo! It’s like they are making a joke of us.
    Bodo hehehhe yep! They are making a joke.

  4. BODO will go the way of the DODO.

    If the convention center is such a good deal then private money like Simplot would be flowing in. Even they know it will not fly without huge subsidies.

  5. cheeky monkey
    Jul 31, 2006, 5:25 pm

    What ever happened to all that CCDC money spent on a River Street / Myrtle Street Redevelopment Plan? I seem to recall that it showed an extension of the Pioneer Pathway from the Boise River over to the existing Convention Center site.

    I would think that any halfway decent urban plan would start with the most basic element – pedestrian access and human scale.

    Mark Rivers may need to fire his Advertizing people for giving us the BoZo, but his understanding of what makes for a good downtown environment is right on target. His development is a damn sight better than the old CinaPlex Odeon (and its parking lot), and BoZo is ten times better than the Crack Hotel.

    For my money, the ugliest thing we ever built downtown was the Front / Myrtle Couplet. Ten lanes of blistering concrete, nothing more than a knife at the juglar of the city. Every rotten thing that’s been built downtown since the couplet’s opening is just the predictable outflow of this initial bad decision.

  6. Jon Q Publique
    Jul 31, 2006, 11:09 pm

    Perhaps the time has come to ask a basic question. How does one go about dissolving G-BAD? Ballot initiative, city council action, legislative action, etc.?

    There must be a way to dissolve it and transfer whatever assets it holds to another government agency or, oh my gosh, the private sector.

    Guardian, can you (or someone else) shed some light on the process?


  7. Cheeky Monkey is absolutely dead on with his assessment of the 10 lane expressway through the heart of Boise.


  8. The Myrtle/ Front pedestrian unfriendly expressway will eventually kill BoDo too. It’s what killed the relatively vibrant 8th Street Marketplace. I remember when they first started the “connector”, it was supposed to be an elevated expressway to preserve the surface life of the city. As is usual for Boise, they cheaped out and went with the least cost alternative supposedly to keep taxpayers happy. Anyone want to take bets on how long those fancy womens clothes stores last? BoDo is one bad recession away from BoDone.

  9. Have any of you actually spent any time in BoDo? Have you taken the time to take a closer look? Or are you just going on generalized assumptions? BoDo (whether you like the name or not) is a vibrant and essential extension of downtown. It has done things that the old marketplace never did over the long haul: Bring a tremendous amount of foot traffic to the area and actually connect downtown to BSU and the river.

    Also, despite the appearance from the street, it is not just retail. There are many professional offices located in the area with space disappearing fast.

    While I won’t argue that the Connector does impeed foot traffic into the area, if this becomes a real issue, I would have to assume that the city and the developer will find a way to fix this (can we all say foot bridge). Developers don’t invest $60+ million just to see it die.

    Finally, very large national retailers have chosen this location as the sites for their first entry n the boise market. These companies have some of the most sophisticated financial and market dynamics modeling practices that you can imagine. Simply put…they don’t make mistakes very often in store location.

  10. The whole controversy about downtown stems from a group of very narrow-minded and illogical individuals, who are more interested in falling over each other in a race to get their names on the sides of buildings rather than serving the needs of Boise. The only sure bet you can make is that, no matter what is built, there won’t be enough parking!

  11. The problem isn’t that there is too little parking. It’s that there are too many cars.

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