With the increasing push to expand the reach of Boise’s Capital City Development Corp. (CCDC) to include the “Vista corridor,” we took a closer look at the commercial properties which are targeted for urban renewal designation.
One of the deciding factors to include an area into the urban renewal fold is BLIGHT. It appears to the GUARDIAN one of those expensive consultant studies is the basis for the desire to go after the Vista neighborhood commercial property.
In a 2015 document, the Urban Land Institute prefaced its report thusly: “Vista Avenue exemplifies a typical strip commercial street, with auto-oriented retail, bars, pawn shops, a mix of converted and dilapidated housing, and very few pedestrian facilities. This segment of the corridor bifurcates the Vista Neighborhood, which has some of the lowest livability indicators (income, single family home value, etc.) in the city, and includes a mix of single and multi-family housing. Due to the function of this corridor as a gateway to the city and the lack of relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods, there is a lot of opportunity to improve the uses and infrastructure along Vista Avenue to make it more attractive to visitors, while simultaneously improving the health and well-being of residents who rely on the corridor as part of their daily lives.”
A similar case could easily be made for Hyde Park in the North End. “Buildings are old, in need of repair. Thirteenth Street is narrow with people wandering dangerously into traffic, diners bring dogs to the restaurants, parking is limited, bars and alcohol vendors are just a few blocks from schools.”
The historic value of Vista Village is profound. It is the first shopping center in Idaho and recently underwent a multi-million dollar facelift and remodel–all at the expense of the owners with no subsidy. Unlike properties at the Town Square Mall and downtown Boise, Vista Village has a 100% occupancy.
New commercial outlets abound along Vista including two modern medical speciality facilities, four financial institutions, ethnic food outlets, a jeweler with more than half a century of service to the area, and several national lodging facilities.
Also along Vista one can find a modern super market, a veterinarian, legal offices, three pharmacies, a florist, travel agent, and much more.
Rather than cater to visitors as the “gateway to the city,” we feel it is time for City Hall to understand the Vista neighborhood is a culturally diverse area with most services only a few blocks from the residents who patronize them.
Any “blight” or poverty is the direct result of city fathers and mothers using the area as a dumping ground for low income housing, home for sex offenders, and a place to jam as many people as possible into modern tenements and skinny houses under the guise of “increased density.”
As we see it, there is little justification in designating the commercial properties along Vista as part of an urban renewal area. Treat them fairly and stop dumping on Vista residents and the area will continue to evolve into the vibrant neighborhood it deserves to be.
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