We’ve seen it all before–the Daily Paper features a huge color architect rendering on the front page with a gushing story about extravagant plans. The plans seldom work out because the hype is just the first phase of what is really a financing scheme.
Things like a convention center, hotel, high rise tower, Tamarack, “European” movie set subdivision (east of town), and dozens more have sucked in the legacy media only to fail.
The latest dream dubbed, JACK’S URBAN MEETING place is the brainchild of the Simplot family foundation and it just might fly.
It is to be located on land already owned by the heirs of J.R. Simplot, the famed Idaho industrialist-farmer-rancher-philanthropist whose willingness to gamble made him a household name. The four block parcel is bordered by 9th and 11th on the east and west and Front and Myrtle on the north and south.
Official plans call for a park, outdoor amphitheater and dinner theater, sculputre garden full of farm equipment collected by Simplot over the years, studio space for the arts, and possibly a new headquarters building for the company “J.R.” founded. City approval is almost certain.
The family foundation is apparently ready to pump $100 million into the project and the politicos are offering positive quotes about the plan. It sounds good on the face of it, but it could compete with the Center on The Grove and the Morrison Performing Arts venues.
The drawing also seems to show parking facilities. That agency dropped $8 million into a substandard parking structure squeezed into the BoDo block housing the Hampton Inn which gets about a third of the spaces for its exclusive use in the public financed structure.
The entire project will not yield any taxes for Boise since it is in the urban renewal district operated by the CCDC (Captial City Development Corp.) That agency will reap the benefit of the taxes if the project comes to fruition…about $2 million at current rates.
No word yet from the G-Bad Boys at the Greater Boise Auditorium District. They failed at every turn to get approval or funding for a convention center on the block to the west. On the face of it, this project looks like it will compete for dinner theater and other events seating up to 1,200.
The GUARDIAN urges everyone to be up front about who will pay for the entire project. Past experience tells us to watch out for “private-public partnerships” that have taxes going to private ventures in one form or another. If this is truly a private Simplot venture, we applaud the effort and wish them all the best in the true spirit of capitalism.
UPDATE MONDAY MAY 25–
Word from the Simplot spokesman is unequivical: NO PUBLIC MONEY is to be used in the project. Only funds from the Simplot family will be used to build the project, including the parking. We want to reserve some wiggle room for unforeseen circumstances, but at this point the GUARDIAN endorses the project. Now, if the politicos can stay away from it, we may have something.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.