For residents of Boise’s Barber Valley looking to get out of the house, there isn’t much to do nearby. Apart from a few restaurants, it is mostly the rooftops.
But that may soon change. The developers want to bring a new “downtown” to the neighborhood they hope to bring in up to $ 500 million from development.
The developers recently presented their ideas to the Barber Valley Neighborhood Association. They envision an area that has a mix of everything: residential housing, commercial and public spaces.
The project is led by Southern California developer High Rhodes Investment Group, which is building the Timbers at Harris Ranch apartments. The developers have been working on the idea for over 15 years.
Downtown Harris Ranch would be located between Old Hickory Way and Barnside Way, north of Parkcenter Boulevard. When complete, the 274-unit Timbers apartment building will be within walking distance. The Timbers is under construction between Wise Way and Old Hickory Way, north of Warm Springs Avenue.
Gathering places for the community
Brad Hillgren, owner of The Irvine Company, pointed out that the design is still in its infancy and is subject to change. But he already has a long list of ideas and has been working with his architects on how to implement them.
The creation of public spaces appears to be the developer’s absolute priority. While the commercial and residential aspects would be paid for by the developers, the public spaces would be funded by the Harris Ranch Community Infrastructure District. The district funds things like roads and public improvement projects through additional taxes on property owners in the district.
Recently, a group of taxpayers challenged the legality of the district and demanded its abolition. Hillgren said the dispute will need to be resolved for the city center to be built.
The northernmost of the three blocks, north of Parkcenter Boulevard, would be a “main street” that Hillgren hopes will have a Hyde Park feel, with restaurants, offices and shops. The block would include a square with a town square reminiscent of a European square, where people can gather to eat, shop and see neighbors.
âThese have operated for centuries with retail businesses and restaurants on the ground floor with businesses and residences above,â Hillgren said.
The middle block would have a pedestrian-only “pedestrian street” with more food and shops. This area would include another public space that Hillgren called âthe front porchâ. It would be an outdoor dining area outside of a food hall.
On the southernmost block, adjacent to Warm Springs Avenue, would be the community commons. Hillgren said it could be an area with a farmers market or food trucks. It would lead to the greenery of the village. In the center of the village square would be an amphitheater with a brass band shell in front of a large lawn.
âWhen you don’t have a gig, people can throw soccer balls and frisbees and have a picnic,â Hillgren said.
On one side of the amphitheater would be a children’s play area with a jungle gym and climbing boulders that would give a ‘nature’ feel and blend into the landscape. On the other side are pop-up stalls and the Dallas Harris Riverfront Trail.
Efforts would be made to make the area more visually appealing. This could include planting additional trees, a painted silo, and an entrance arch.
Hillgren noted that the developers would not be able to implement all of these plans at once. In the meantime, he wants to set up temporary uses to activate the area, such as a community garden, a toboggan run or an archery range.
Gary Veasy, secretary of the Barber Valley Neighborhood Association, said he thought this was something his area had needed for some time. He’s excited that he won’t have to drive that often.
âWe’re a really strong pedestrian and cycling community,â said Veasy. “And I think there will be some really good opportunities for you, instead of getting in your car, riding a bike there or we could walk.”
Commercial commitments and more residents still needed
According to developers and interested business owners, the buildings in between all of these spaces could be townhouses, apartments, a hotel, restaurants, stores, offices, or other campus buildings. Downtown buildings and homes would be a mix of rental and owner-occupied units.
âIt’s not the kind of development (where) you build it and they will come,â Hillgren said. âThis is the one where you have to go out and get them to say yes and then you build it for them. This brings a lot of cats to the starting line.
Bringing more people to live in the surrounding area would be one of the most crucial aspects of the project. The city center could accommodate up to 600 new homes, Hillgren said.
âWhat’s really important is making sure that we get enough density there to support the commercial and public spaces to make it the perfect place for Barber Valley,â he said. âThe challenge is that there aren’t enough roofs here. When you start to go past a mile and a half, a lot of the area is beautiful hills, not people with American Express cards. So that’s not what a lot of retailers are looking for. “
Hillgren said he hoped to submit plans to the city in early 2022. The approval and hearing process, as well as the search for tenants and buyers, would take longer. Ideally, developers would lead the way in the second half of 2023. Hillgren expects there to be three or four construction phases, and each construction phase would take 20 months for all construction to be completed.
Sally Krutzig covers the growth and development of Treasure Valley. A story suggestion or a question? Send an email to Krutzig at [email protected]