G-BAD Convention Center Take IV

The bungling efforts of the Greater Boise Auditorium District have reached epic proportions as they announced Wednesday at least their fourth try to build a convention center in downtown Boise.
G-Bad captioned.jpg

–Voters have turned them down twice. On the first go around they couldn’t even get 50% of the required 67% majority required by law.

–Round three was an exclusive deal with a private developer who didn’t even offer a plan because he “didn’t have time” to mess with it.

–Round four is a plan to not only build a convention center, but include an 11 story hotel on a block of publicly owned land downtown.

Their overzealous efforts included using public money to advertise in favor of their bond election and the Idaho Supreme Court declared that stunt illegal. Tens of thousands of dollars in public tax money was spent to defend the illegal ad campaign.

The latest deal is supposedly a flat out lease with no purchase option (we will believe that when we see the agreement). News reports say local developer Oppenheimer Corp. is planning a joint venture with John Q. Hammons Hotel Management to build the convention center and an Embassy Suites Hotel for $80 million on the G-BAD public land and lease it back to the G-BAD.

We wonder why the developers would want to lease it back to the G-BAD boys if it is a good business deal. Why bring in the G-BAD as a middleman if they have a profitable venture?

The GUARDIAN thinks a private venture with no lease back would make a lot more sense–even if G-BAD leased the land for $1 a year. They can’t sell the land without an auction to the highest bidder and they also have a buy back contract with the Simplot family-owned S-16 development company. The status of that deal is unknown at present.

Unfortunately, this smells like just another scheme to get around the voters. They are packing too much into too little space and potentially creating a terrible mess at the entrance/exit to the I-184 connector. The current Grove Hotel-Convention Center complex has already compromised our public sidewalk and intrudes daily into our public street, choking traffic with illegally parked cars, busses, vans, and delivery vehicles which cause traffic hazards. Capitol, Front, and 9th have lanes blocked daily.

Expect more of the same if this ill-conceived project is allowed to proceed without citizen approval.

They are also talking about using Capital City Development Corp. (Boise’s city urban renewal agency) public taxpayer funds to build a parking garage under the private developer’s structure. Not a wise move.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. If public money–regardless of the source–is used in this project, the public needs a voice and not just one of those hearings where folks vent and the government proceeds to do as it pleases.

    I agree with G that it appears too much is being packed into too little space, further clogging the downtown.

  2. If you think this is bad you should see what the city coucil approved last night… a 6 story apartment complex over the parking garage (61 units) where Hal Davis is downtown.

    One elevator for 61 units. You have to wonder how those low income folks are going to move in…And I guess that they will all ride bikes, because the parking garage is full already,

    Oh if only Brandi was running this year. She would have my vote!

  3. Mr. Logic, from a responsible urban planning perspective, downtown is exactly where we should push density.

    Guardian, yes, I would say that this most definitely is a play around the voters. If they do that within the law, I guess I just don’t see any issue with it. (Oh, and everybody please remember, unless you enjoy staying in our local hotels instead of sleeping in your own bed, these are not tax $’s out of “your” pocket).

    All, I do think that it is way too early to be jumping to too many conclusions on this development. There is not much information available yet. While the last proposal to build over a long period of time was just plain stupid, let’s not saddle this proposal with that baggage, unless it deserves it. Oppenheimer has proven themselves a very good corporate citizen in the past and Hammons is one of the most respected hotel developers in the country. I have stayed in Hammons properties in the past and they are quite high quality and almost always in scale with their surroundings.

  4. I still cna’t shake eh feeling that if this was such a slam-dunk venture, then public wouldn’t be necessary at all. GBAD could submit their proposal to lenders, who would advance them the money if it was a safe investment. Or, a private developer would approach the city with a proposal to buy the land from GBAD or who ever owns it. The fact that neither of these free-market solutions have happened despite years of talk and maneuvering makes me think that something about this idea isn’t as slam dunk as some people believe.

  5. Jon–Density or congestion? On the tax issue, alcohol, tobacco, highway, and many other taxes don’t come out of my pocket either, but they are indeed public money.

  6. Mr Logic–I work downtown (as you may too…I don’t know) and while some of the roads are not in good shape, I would hardly characterize downtown as congested or hard to navigate. Once people are parked downtown they are usually on foot. Eagle and Fairview on the other hand (among other areas) is congested.

    Great point on the taxes. Then again, I guess we don’t have much direct say in how those tax $’s get spent either

  7. Sorry, the hotel tax money is PUBLIC money and why should it just be used for an auditorium? There are many other needs in this community which fit within the parameters of that tax such as a kayak water park, or bicycle paths, enhanced sidewalks at Edwards so visitors can walk some place or kids can walk/ride to the movies. Why does this money solely have to be used for Downtown.

    And not content with using ALL of the hotel room tax money downtown, people like Alan Shealy wants a billion dollar big dig downtown – money from some source.

    Did you ever think that there are other parts of this city too?

  8. I cannot believe how you that support this website groan and complain about everything that is proposed for Boise. If you do not want Boise to grow then move to Nyssa.

    There is nothing wrong about a new convention center no matter how it is built. The argument your lame souls always use that voter turned it down is pathetic. 2/3 majority is wrong, and most cities and states don’t even require 2/3 majority. Over Half of Boise’s citizens wanted the convention center–the rest were mislead by your scare tactics.

    EDITOR NOTE–You are in error. Half of the voters turned it down, even though G-BAD openly and agressively missused publy funds to advertise. THE SUPREME COURT flat out said they BROKE THE LAW. The second go around was a massive “privte” effort on the part of G-BAD to influence voters. These stupid voters are the same ones who elected the board.

  9. John, please don’t forget that the purpose of the room tax by GBAD is specifically to support district ops and projects. Thus projects like the water park, etc., however needed or nice, don’t quite fit into their charter.

    By Idaho law the purpose of an auditorium district is: “to build, operate, maintain, market and manage for public, commercial and/or industrial purposes by any available means public auditoriums, exhibition halls, convention centers, sports arenas and facilities of a similar nature and for that purpose any such district shall have the power to construct, maintain, manage, market and operate such facilities”. Idaho Statutes, Title 67-4902.

  10. Boisean said, ” If you do not want Boise to grow then move to Nyssa.”

    Wow, one person moving to Nyssa would stop Boise from growing? Amazing. Or did he mean lots of Boiseans should move to Nyssa and destroy that town, too; then maybe Boise won’t look so bad by comparison?

    Also, “There is nothing wrong about a new convention center no matter how it is built. ” — does that mean that even if illegal menthods are used, Boise residents’ desires are ignored, or the whole thing is paid for with taxpayers’s money, it’s still OK because another convention center is needed so badly that the end justfies the means? Wow!

    I have to wonder where “Boisean” actually lives, that he doesn’t care at all about Boise, its streets, its traffic, its residents, laws, taxpayers’ dollars, etc.

    Ah, well, I guess he can call himself whatever he wants to, and I hope he continues to enjoy his job with whatever developer he works for. I’m just glad not all real Boiseans are so uncaring about their neighbors, their city and themselves.

  11. You call your self what!! The Boisean?
    Huh ! Come again!

  12. God forbid if you are for growth..I agree with The Boisean. Is there ANYTHING the city, county or state can do that is right?

  13. Boise is not a convention town. It is a big meeting town. Throw another story on the existing convention “centre” if you want. You can do Boise in one day if your’e a visitor. Not enough to do here to attract a big convention. Convention centers attract a lot of low paying part time jobs. Is that what we want? They all have to come to work in their cars and pickups throwing more cars on the streets and they don’t like to pay for parking. Not to mention the exhibit hauling semi trucks. Convention centers create huge amounts of waste that has to be hauled to the dump. We don’t even have decent escort sevices, street walkers or full on nude strip joints. Portland is full of them and that’s where all the McCEO’s like to go after their trade show. If the price of gas goes up, no one is going to drive here or fly here. Flying in and out of BOI is too expensive anyway. Why do you think our D.C. politicians never come home after they get elected. Hope it’s not because the “pages” are in Washinton D.C. The key word on this subject is unabashed greed.

  14. I’m with Jon. Indebteddness without a public vote is wrong — unless they use one of the legal work arounds that are in Idaho Code. Underground parking? Good idea. Maybe even some tunnels under the roads for the pedestrians. Burying a section of road as Shealey suggests ought to be looked at too. It works in Seattle. The congestion and density in the area can be managed; Guardian’s complaints about the Grove, while grumpy, should be used as a “lessen learned” and better design can mitigate for those impacts.

    I still say the best argument against this convention center proposal is that the convention market is a mature industry and the projections used by the boosters to promote the idea are always inflated. If Oppenheimer can make it work with a partnership with GBAD and CCDC then bring it on.


  15. Now lets inject some common sense here. First G-BAD is trying another end-around run on a ” vote by the People” because they know the people will never vote for their new Monstosity. Secondly, yes G-BAD is funded by tax payer money and so will this new ” build and lease” scheme be funded by the taxpayer.

    G-BAD takes in a 6% hotel, motel tax on rooms in the G_BAD district. Many of the conventions at G-BAD now are from groups within the state,ergo the state taxpayer pays much of the way for G-BAD.

    Now, if our( Idaho govt.) taxpayers are one of the primary funders of G-BAD and their projects then the People should have the final say on wether this new convention center, hotel should be built. G-BAD has become a bureaucratic nightmare , growing fat at the expense of the taxpayer with help from CCDC and Team Dave ( CCDC was created by City council to take over the responsibilities the People elected The Mayor and council for.) We need to confront The Mayor and City Council and ask them why are you letting these agencies, many of which you have created to do your job, ignore the People and needlessly spend large amounts of tax-payer monies?

  16. curious george
    Oct 19, 2006, 10:50 pm

    When questions regarding the appropriateness of Boise as a convention center site is brought up, I’m reminded of what a rather forward-thinking mayor of a middling-sized town in France (Nantes) thought about his own town.

    He realized what his town had to offer: cultural events, historical sites, great scenery, was rather sparse (compared to other European towns). But he saw something special that others didn’t – his town’s location. His town was one of the most centrally located cities in Europe – especially so after the, then proposed, TGV train would be opened for business.

    Nantes was transformed into Les Citi Internationale Des Congres, and the rest is history – sort of speak. The majority of the city’s economy now rests on convention bookings.

    Why should this matter? Well, Boise is one of the the most centrally located towns in the Intermountain and Pacific Northwest. It is ideally suited for corporate conventions, since most everyone in this part of the country would need to travel equal distances to convene. Boise is also a convenient base from which to take in a number of outstanding outdoor recreational activities – exactly what a weary business conventionier wants to induldge in after a week of meetings (or to take in while playing hooky, not that anyone does that at conventions).

    I recall George Bernard Shaw’s statement regarding how progress occurs, “Reasonable men adapt themselves to their environment; unreasonable men try to adapt their environment to themselves. Thus all progress is the result of the efforts of unreasonable men.” I think Nantes is thankful for at least one unreasonable man, and if an expanded convention center capacity is handled correctly Boise will be thankful for its own group of unreasonable men.

    As for those who are opposed to a larger convention hosting capacity in Boise (regardless of how it is funded), I think they would still hope they could be proven wrong.

  17. C George–
    While “Boise is centrally located” so is the North Pole! It is the most centrally located spot in the northern hemisphere.

    Mayor Dave recently proclaimed, “Boise is the most REMOTE city of its size in the country.”

    You and whatever agency or developer you work for need to get a French-style TGV funded and running–at 200 mph with no grade crossings–and I bet even the G will jump aboard a convention center. Meanwhile please don’t choke our downtown with more buildings, people, cars, trucks, cops, etc.

    I am a retired writer, please share your interest or background in a word or two.

  18. curious george
    Oct 20, 2006, 1:01 pm

    I don’t work for a developer, and I certainly don’t work for Team Dave – though I did vote for him, I’ve been a little disappointed. Me and mine have lived in the same Northend home for the past 14 years – and have been Boise residents for 17 years.

    I’m trained in architecture (but I don’t regularly practice the trade), and to relax I sculpt. I’m very keen on transit and sound urban planning. I’ve also participated in over twenty urban design charrettes (most, but not all, for downtown Boise – focusing on identifying and fixing problems). Nine of these I wrote, directed, and facilitated for the University of Idaho’s Architecture Department as part of its urban planning practicum. I’ve also been a university guest lecturer on architecture. I help create, and for a number of years I ran, an all volunteer, award winning, organization that provided pro bono architectural and design services for non-profit & community-based organizations.

    My favorite color is red, I like walks on the beach at sunset, and one of my best friends is my dog. My (currently) favorite movie is An American in Paris, and the three books on my nightstand are a book of Pablo Neruda’s poetry, Manuel De Landa’s A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, and McDonough & Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle.

    I’m a little shy, but I imagine a number of people who read the G know who I am – and I like the anonymity of this electronic confessional 😉

  19. C George,
    OK that does it! I asked for a word or two and you took up a full page. I don’t mind that so much, but when you tried to slip in “CHARRETTES” you went over the line. (For you non-library types, I can’t find the damn word in my Webster’s New World or in the dictionary on my computer).

    George, I will concede this round, but you owe us all a simple SHORT definition of Charrettes. It sounds to me like a syndrome where one uses many words when one or two will suffice. You are worse than a developer, you’re a friggin’ CONSULTANT!

  20. curious george
    Oct 20, 2006, 6:05 pm


    Not a consultant either, gave that up in the mid-90’s. I feel like Kirk talking to Kahn in Star Trek II, “… but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.” Letting my sci-fi geekiness show through 😉

    Fourty-three words (counting this)?

    EDITOR NOTE–CG, nice work! If you can keep all your posts this clear we will end up with the most intellectual site in Idaho! (For the non library types: (common Idaho definition) “CHARRETTE: is a collaborative planning process that harnesses the talents and energies of all interested parties to create and support a feasible plan that represents transformative community change.”

  21. C George,
    Good work, thanks for the insight. Dirty trick to sneak French word into your post for Charrette. Almost like one of the lawyers using Latin. We already knew you were smart.
    Even if you draw a government salary I still say you are a consultant at heart.

  22. Gosh when does this type of thinking stop !
    Take that land and put part of it into a park and use the rest for a place to put all the non-bus stop bench`s that they are crying about.

    At least then the homeless folks will a place to sit and watch the traffic go by.

    We do not need another convention center, even our city officials go elsewhere for the BIG meetings. (Like Sun Valley to meet with the Chamber of Commerce to plan how to get people to come to Boise)

  23. I think Bonnie summed it up very well. No convention center. Why doesn’t Boise belong to the citizens instead of the visitors? I go downtown every once in awhile just to see how much has changed. It makes me sad. But I’m a native, what do I know?

  24. Here we go again. A Guardian blogger wants us to be like France! I would venture to say that more people (Idahoans) would go to a Wal-Mart than a Convention centre. We could ask that Wal-Mart design the building to look like Chinatown and it would look historic, replacing the Chinatown that used to be there. What a shopping experience for the people. Imagine buying Chinese stuff in a Chinatown in Boise! Build Wal-Mart for the glorious working people! Let them vote on that idea.

  25. curious george
    Oct 25, 2006, 8:48 am

    The first building constructed in Boise in the 20th Century (the Idanha Hotel) was also built by folks who thought France (or the French Chateau style) was an appropriate reference for Boise (le Bois). The Idanha was also bigger and taller than any other building in Boise at the time – and it set the stage for what turned out to be the predominant architectural style in Boise over the next thirty years. But the architecture in Les Citi Internationale Des Congres is anything but “historical” or derivitive.

    Actually, I like the whole Wal-Martian, China-fication notion. Get rid of the illusion that Wal-Mart is a Buy America enterprise, make them sell their goods in Chinese currency. 😉

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: