Fmr. Albertsons CEO, Stampede owner to BoiseDev: Downtown stadium isn't the right fit

EXCLUSIVE

Gary Michael addresses members of the GBAD board before the formal start of their meeting Wednesday

Gary Michael addresses members of the GBAD board before the formal start of their meeting Wednesday

A group of prominent Boise business people is concerned about a stadium proposed for Americana Blvd. in Boise - and they are speaking up.

Greenstone Properties is proposing to build a stadium and mixed-use project on land currently owned by St. Luke's Health System. It would host the Boise Hawks, a possible soccer team and other uses if the project comes to fruition.

Former Albertsons CEO Gary Michael sent a letter to the Greater Boise Auditorium District this month - and along with members of his group Concerned Boise Taxpayers - he attended a Wednesday meeting of the group.

GBAD officials acknowledged the letter and assembled group, but said it was too early to take comments.

"We haven’t considered a project or been asked to," GBAD chair Jim C. Walker said. "If we are, we will have a formal comment period. Right now it is a bit premature as there is nothing on the table formally."

Michael spoke to BoiseDev outside the meeting.

He says he and his group have major concerns about the project - including the tax impact and fit of the stadium for the neighborhood.

"It is absolutely the wrong project for that space," he said. "We’ve got neighborhoods, the best parks, the best Greenbelt. The (neighborhood is) redeveloping privately. It doesn’t need a redevelopment process to do it."

READ MORE: 
CCDC weighs options for new district to help fund stadium

Michael was joined by several Boise community leaders - including former Idaho Stampede owner Bill Ilett.  Ilett's experience with the Stampede gives him a unique outlook on minor league sports projects.  Ilett was the managing investor in the Stampede before selling it to the Utah Jazz - which ultimately moved the team to Salt Lake.

"Major league sports make money and has a huge economic impact," he said. But on the other hand:  "Minor league does not - whether it's baseball or hockey or basketball - it's a non-revenue producer.  The owners of these teams do a public service to the community. The return on investment is zero."

He also says community interest isn't what stadium backers make it out to be.

"The interest from the communities is basically zero.  Take this area of 600,000 people: there are probably 3,000 that might have a sincere interest in (baseball, hockey or soccer)," he said. 

Michael notes stadium backers point out that the Americana property is already off the tax rolls since it is owned by non-profit St. Luke's Health System.  But St. Luke's is moving those people to the Washington Group Plaza, which would come off the tax rolls - leading to a net decrease in property tax collections.

"The City of Hartford is headed for bankruptcy," he said. "People really need to do their homework."

Hartford is mulling a chapter nine bankruptcy after it ran into problems with nearly half its parcels carrying tax exempt status, according to Fox News.

"You make these decisions in isolation and pretty soon you have a problem," Michael said. "We've got most of Boise paying no property taxes. Who is going to pay for fire and police protection?"

The Idaho Statesman reported in 2016 that 54% of land in Ada County does not contribute property taxes of any kind.

READ MORE:
How would a stadium be paid for?

Ilett, who owns property near the proposed stadium as well as a stake in the Inn at 500 Capitol says he is concerned about a model that would have the GBAD group commit hotel tax revenues for a stadium.

"Baseball or soccer isn't going to put more heads in beds. Why should they tap hotel money?"

He thinks the project's developers - Greenstone Properties - should try to make the project work without tax dollars - just like the Idaho Steelheads did with CenturyLink Arena.

"Build it and see if they can make it an economic return - but don’t rely on public money," Ilett said. " There are too many things we need to do with that money (for all residents)."

Michael hopes people will take a close look at any deal before it is pushed through.

"We love Boise. Do your homework. See what they're doing. We think it is absolutely the wrong place for a baseball stadium."

Tropical Smoothie Cafe to add Downtown Boise store

Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans its second Boise outlet - with the addition near the Grove Plaza in Boise.

The new eatery is slotted next to Gyro Shack in the Clearwater Building on Main St.  The franchised restaurant started in the 1990s in Florida, and serves wraps, sandwiches , salads , and smoothies. It will compete with the newly-opened Fresh Health Cafe on Broad St. and nearby Jamba Juice in menu overlap.

Fresh Smoothie opened its first Boise outlet in a former Moxie Java location on Overland earlier this year.

BodyBuilding.com gives run down HS gym a "Boise State"-level makeover

Boise-based BodyBuilding.com has taken a unique approach to giving back.

The online seller of supplements and other workout-related products has started the non-profit Lift Life Foundation - remodeling high school gyms across the country.

The foundation's idea is to "give new life to old run down high school weight rooms and give underprivileged students access to an amazing space that can literally change their lives both physically and mentally for the better."

Employees of BodyBuilding.com double with roles for Lift Life - taking a passion for fitness and applying it to doing good for students in small communities across the U.S.

So far, LLF has completed three gym projects - and showcased the latest effort with a 30-minute documentary film. 

The team travelled from Boise to Anderson Preparatory Academy in Anderson, Indiana to polish up a pretty run down workout space.

The town of Anderson was once a big hub for General Motors. As the 90s progressed, cutbacks came - followed by a complete pullout of the automaker in the early 2000s.

“When that happened it was like an implosion. The bottom just fell out,“ school founder Robert L. Guillaume said.

Before image, via Lift Life Foundation

Before image, via Lift Life Foundation

Schools like Anderson are strapped for cash - and that has a big impact on the school's weight room.

That's where Lift Life steps in.

The school received a grant of materials, time and equipment from the foundation. What happened next is a sort-of Extreme Makeover: High School Gym Edition.

“The Anderson weight room when we walked in was in really rough shape," BodyBuilding.com's Dylan Cooper said in the video. 

Out went a rundown, hazard-laden workout room - and in came a gleaming space loaded with the latest equipment.

“A lot of the students were like ‘why would I come here and work out - you don’t have any of the good equipment?’,” Anderson’s Prep’s Major Jeffrey Dorman said.” And a lot of them would say ‘do you work out here Major Dorman’ - and I didn’t. I worked out a commercial place.”

Exposed electrical wiring, unpadded tile floors and a small scattering of workout equipment gave the athletic teams a distinct disadvantage on the fields and courts. 

The LLF team swept in and assessed the current weight room and figured out how to improve the facilities and make the environment more welcoming.

Construction teams brought nearly seven trailers of equipment into the project.

“All together we are bringing in more than 130,000 pounds of equipment today. All by hand,” Cooper said.

They revamped the flooring, removed rooms, cleaned, added mirrors and more. Beyond new equipment and a coat of paint - the team focuses on branding, logos and atmosphere.

That focus paid off.

After image, via Lift Life Foundation

After image, via Lift Life Foundation

When Major Dorman first saw the revamp, the shiny blue turf on the floor (and perhaps the Boise-based team) gave him one thought:

"Boise State's got nothin' on us man!"

"(This is) State of the art," Dorman said. "Better than what we could have expected. Ten times what we would have expected. It will make such difference."

“To have this facility is just beyond expectation. What has occurred here with this project again reflects a positivity to the community,” Guillaume said.

Seeing the reaction to the project gives the LLF team great satisfaction. 

“I hope it gives all the students a tool that they can take advantage of. It’s so rewarding. Every project is different. We change lives for these kids” Lift Life's Makayla Frickey said.

“What I’m going to take away from the Anderson project is we left it a better place than when we got there," Cooper said. "This is something that is a brand new space and a new beginning. They can get in there and it can be a rallying point.”

BBcom and its Lift Life Foundation have complete three remodel projects - including one in Idaho. A fourth is in the works in Montana. The foundation is taking nominations for future projects.

 

Former Albertsons CEO comes out swinging against Boise ballpark

Gary G. Michael spent a decade at the top of Boise-based grocer Albertsons - seeing it grow to the top of the industry before leaving in 2001.

Now he is back in the spotlight for a very different reason - he's demanding accountability for a planned public/private partnership for a new ballpark planned for Americana Blvd. near the Boise River.

Michael sent a letter to the Greater Boise Auditorium asking for a number of specific measures before any ballpark project is approved. The letter was first reported by the Boise Guardian

In short, the letter asks the GBAD board and/or the City of Boise to conduct analysis and studies on:

  • Traffic generated by the project
  • Noise impact
  • Lighting impact
  • Environmental impact, especially as it pertains to Kathryn Albertson and Ann Morrison Parks. Michael notes Albertson park was donated by JA & Kathryn Albertson - founders of the company he used to lead.
  • Impact on businesses in the area and "loss in property value."

The letter asserts that the studies should take "3-6 months," and ask results to be shared with citizens.

Michael's group has not filed with the State of Idaho.

The GBAD is scheduled to take up the issue at a Wednesday board meeting.

Dance studio, retail under construction in Barber Valley

Boise's Barber Valley area is seeing a housing boom - but still has a relatively low amount of commercial retail space (save for Lucky 13, a gas station, the new Coffee Mill and a planned Albertsons complex). 

Many residents have been curious about a pair of buildings going up on Barber Valley Drive near Maryanne Williams Park.

One of the two structures will be home to Boise Dance Alliance and hopes to be open by August 1st. The dance school and studio is currently located on Apple St. near ParkCenter Blvd.

The other building is planned for multiple tenants, but no permits for just what might go into those spaces have yet been filed.   Developers describe potential uses for the 6,203 square foot building as "restaurant/office/retail." Construction has not yet started on the second structure. 

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Today Show eclipses Idaho, skips our day out of the sun

The Today Show tweeted out a quick little graphic about the eclipse Friday morning. 

It showed the path across the United States for next month's much-hyped event.  

But for some reason... it doesn't highlight Idaho -- despite the path going right over the top.

(In fairness, the show picked out a few cities to highlight on the path and didn't happen to pick an Idaho one... but graying out the state still looks... odd).

The graphic also skips Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina - but the widest left-out expanse is definitely Idaho.

The "gaffe" is the number two trending topic in Boise, according to Trendsmap (behind "Spicer").

 

The oversight left social media users in Idaho feeling a little... salty.

Even the newsies got into it:

A space pun about space things:

Double points for the Philo reference and the prison pun:

Hashtag client?

I've got a shirt for ya, Today Show:

For the record, the eclipse still will zip over Idaho a month today. And it will be awesome.

Ode to bridge: display pays homage to torn down crossings

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The updated Broadway Bridge over the Boise River opened to much fanfare last September. 

Now its predecessor (and predecessor's predecessor) have a permanent tribute.  

A piece of the 1956 bridge has been placed in Julia Davis Park adjacent to the new structure.  A plaque for the bridge drops a little bit of knowledge - that the old structure was actually two separate bridges "so closely aligned they appeared as one."

Another plauqe is dedicated to the first river crossing in this location - an 1891 bridge once touted to be "one of the finest bridges of its kind in the Pacific Northwest."  

The display is sponsored by ITD and the Boise City Department of Arts & History.

 

Bodega planned for Downtown Boise

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A mini-mart is planned for Downtown Boise: JD's Bodega.

Boisean Josh Davis has filed with the City of Boise to remodel a space in the Tower Plaza Building in Downtown Boise near the corner of Capitol Blvd. and Idaho St.

The space is behind the Chase Bank branch in the building across from Boise City Hall.  Filings indicate Davis plans to include walk-in coolers, a prep kitchen and seating in the 1,961 square foot space. 

The remodel project is valued at nearly $120,000. Davis did not return an email requesting comment. 

New Frontier, old Frontier: Airline to return to Boise

Frontier Airlines is set to return to the Boise Airport.

A new non-stop route between Boise and Denver will be offered starting in spring of 2018, according to the airline.

The airline dropped service between Boise and Denver in 2011 -- and has since gone through bankruptcy proceedings and several corporate maneuvers.

This will give the Boise Airport seven full-line airlines, joining Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest and United. (Fun fact: United Airlines was founded in Boise).

Frontier will join United and Southwest in offering direct flights to Denver from BOI. Frontier operates a hub in Denver, giving Boise clients a number of connecting destination opetions.

The company is now an ultra-low-cost airline with so-called "slimline seats," which in general don't recline and are much thinner than traditional airline seats. The company also charges for many items that are normally part of an a standard airline ticket.

(Thanks, Ben, for the tip!)

Parking boom? In-progress garage could go higher, bigger

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The market for parking spaces in Downtown Boise is booming - and a prominent developer is looking to capitalize.

Gardner Co. has applied to expand the parking garage they are already building at 10th St. at Front St. 

The application with the City of Boise would expand the garage from its current four stories to five levels - adding an additional 218 spaces in the process.

The application letter indicates the garage was originally planned to be up to six stories in the future, but says demand already is in place to add another story now.

The Capital City Development Corporation has an agreement in place to use 250 of the spaces. In total, the structure would have room for 829 vehicles if approved.

The change to the project will have to again go through Boise's Design Review process and is slated for a hearing next month.

Last month, BoiseDev first broke the story of a new parking garage planned a few blocks away by Clay Carley. 

ALSO READ: 

Downtown parking crunch could send rates higher, again

Micron plans large new office building on Boise campus

Micron Technology is expanding its Boise campus with the addition of a large new office complex. 

The company has applied to the City of Boise to construct a three-story building with a total of 225,000 square feet of space. Compare that with the new JR. Simplot Co. headquarters in Downtown Boise which is 265,000 square feet over nine stories.

The new structure will be built on a current parking lot and be known as "Building 37" and will be placed right next to... you guessed it... Building 36. The company says 37 will be linked to 36 on at least one level and possibly two. Renderings obtained by BoiseDev show a skybridge structure connecting the old and new buildings. Renderings also show the building festooned with several Micron logos, which should be visible from Federal Way

The memory maker is also in the process of building out a new research and development lab elsewhere on the campus known as Building 51.  That is part of a $200 million R&D expansion according to the Idaho Statesman.

A Micron spokesperson could not comment on the building's purpose - but said details would be available in coming weeks.

Micron's new CEO Sanjay Mehrotra is slated to speak at a Boise Metro Chamber event on July 27th.

Building 37 will get its day in front of Boise's Design Review group next month.

Another week, another 'Village:' Avimor plans retail

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The Avimor development north of Boise of Idaho 55 has been growing at a snail's pace over the past decade or so - but for the first time, residents may get some retail options. 

KTVB's Morgan Boydston reports Avimor hopes to break ground soon on an On The Fly convenience store and Spring Creek Brewery in the development. 

There are only about 300 homes built in the project, so traffic from folks heading north on 55 will likely have to supplant business.  

Developers say they will call it... the Village.  

Last week in a BoiseDev story about a project in Meridian called Linder Village, we noted how many developers use this name for their commercial projects. This is the second in just two weeks  

In 1949, my great grand-father founded Vista Village on the Boise bench - the first shopping center in the State of Idaho. Since then, that  moniker has been used on scores of projects, including Cole Village Shopping Center, Village at Columbia housing development, Village at Meridian, Hazlewood Village housing development in Boise, Alderwood Village in Eagle, Meadow Lake Village in Meridian... etc. 

The point isn't "oh everyone copied Vista Village."   It's clearly a generic name. But there are other creative words out there that don't promote a feeling of sameness, right? </rant> 

More than 1,500 speak out on F-35 petition, leaders respond

A digital petition from Citizens for a Livable Boise has been delivered to city and state leaders with more than 1,500 signatures.

The story was first reported by Boise Guardian.

A BoiseDev analysis of the petition signatures shows 1,568 unique names (five numbers were skipped over).  Of those, the vast majority of signatories listed Boise as their home city - 1,398 names - or 89%.  Meridian, Garden City, Nampa and Caldwell made up for 73 more names - and 97 were from a variety of other places.

Citizens for Livable Boise petition responses

Breakdown of cities listed by respondants to a petition against the F-35 by Citizens for Livable Boise

After reading through the long list of names, you will likely recognize many if you grew up or live on the Bench.

The comments attached to the petition range from the short to the outraged to the thoughtful.

"I don't want jet noise over my house!," Frank Blue of Boise wrote.

"These jets have no place in a metropolitan area. The negative impact(s) are astounding. Mountain Home is a much more viable option," Debra Gallagher of Boise noted.

Emily Hokett warns the F-35 would harm her business.

"I own a house at ground zero," she wrote - apparently referring to the area near the airport.  "I am a 39-year-old entrepreneur who makes my income from my Airbnb that I run out of my home. This is a main source of income for me. I believe if the F35 are to come to Boise, it will destroy what Boise stands for. We are a community united by our community.

She ended her plea in all caps: "PLEASE DON'T DESTROY MY FAMILY AND MY HOUSE!!!"

Megan Roberts of Boise echoed the city's vision statement in her comment (Our vision: to make Boise the most livable city in the nation).

"We work hard to keep Boise a very livable City, that is what makes this place so special and attractive to newcomers and long-time residents alike. Please don't ruin the quietude we still have as a Western community, the jets belong somewhere where they won't shatter the peace of mind of thousands of residents as they go through routine practices."

ALSO READ:
New maps show impact of F-35

Leaders respond

BoiseDev reached out to each Idaho recipient of the Citizens for Livable Boise petition and letter.

Gov. Butch Otter: “I’ve been studying issues surrounding the F-35 and the opportunity to base a squadron in Idaho for a number of years now. I understand the concerns but believe any challenges can be overcome and that Gowen Field is among the best places anywhere to locate these aircraft.”

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in a letter in response to the petition released to BoiseDev: "Input from community members is vital and we greatly appreciate your interest in this issue and taking the time to send us the petition.  While the City of Boise does support a replacement flying mission at Gowen Field, the decision… will be made by the United States Air Force.  The City of Boise has no say over what aircraft can or cannot fly in and out of Gowen Field."

The Mayor went on to detail a number of what he called "inaccuracies" that his office felt compelled to correct, including:

  • Noting Mtn. Home is "ineligible for this National Guard mission" because it is an active duty base, not a National Guard base.
  • That the F-35 mission would "result in less than 10 minutes of audible IDANG aircraft activity per day" - which the mayor contends is similar to the current A-10 mission.
  • No homes would be "uninhabitable" or condemned. 
  • You can read the full letter here.

The mayor ends the letter on a conciliatory note: "We do understand the concern some residents have for this current proposed flying mission, and we are working on ways to mitigate those challenges if Gowen Field is selected. One thing that can be prominently seen by both those who are in support of the proposed mission and by those opposed is just how passionate and caring the people of Boise are for their city and its future."  He then says he hopes everyone will remain respectful and show support for National Guard members at Gowen Field.

Idaho Commerce Director Megan Ronk: "Idaho Commerce is committed to retaining and growing jobs across Idaho and the F-35 mission presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the Treasure Valley and the state. While the Idaho Air National Guard has been flying at Gowen Field for over 70 years and is responsible for 2,800 jobs for families stretching across southern Idaho, their impact serving our state and protecting our country is immeasurable and deserving of our full support. We respect the concerns of this group of citizens but, rather than speculate with unfounded claims, we eagerly await the environmental impact study process at which time we will have a complete and current factual report on the impact of this potential mission."

From Lindsay Nothern, Sen. Mike Crapo's spokesperson: "We have not seen the petition but Crapo supports the F-35 efforts."

Spokespeople for Sen. Risch, Rep. Simpson and Rep. Labrador did not respond to requests for comment.

 

 

Second phase of downtown condo project to shrink

The original rendering of The Afton shows retail on the corner. It will be replaced by an art installation.

The original rendering of The Afton shows retail on the corner. It will be replaced by an art installation.

The Afton condo project on 8th Street will not be as robust as initially thought for its second phase.

The project, as proposed, was to include 39 condos, six stories, two levels of parking, retail space and live-work units.

Now, 35 condos will be constructed, the building will be five stories, just one level of parking will be built, the retail space is gone and no live-work units will be constructed. A number of design changes were also approved.

The Capital City Development Corporation, which owns the land under The Afton had to approve the changes - which commissioners did Monday.

Retail on the corner of 9th and River wasn't feasible, according to the developer by way of a CCDC staffer:

“He (developer Mike Hormaechea) feels very strongly that the site does not work well for retail commercial," project manager Shellan Rodriguez said. 

CCDC commissioners voted unanimously to approve the project changes.

Idaho Business Review to leave downtown space

The Idaho Business Review newspaper is ending its lease on space at 9th St. & Broad St. in Downtown Boise.

Hawkins Co. has the 4,891 square foot space listed for lease on its website. Loopnet indicates the rate is "negotiable."

"I can confirm the lease with Hawkins Co. will expire in August and the Idaho Business Review will be relocating into a new office space August 1st," IBR associate publisher Cindy Suffa said in response to a request for comment. Suffa did not elaborate on where staffers would relocate. 

The parent company of the Boise-based business paper was acquired by large newspaper conglomerate GateHouse Media in 2016. GateHouse says it operates in more than 500 markets across the United States.

hawkinscompanies.com screenshot

hawkinscompanies.com screenshot

Macklemore pops tags at WinCo in new video

Seattle-born rapper Macklemore wanted to celebrate his grandma's 100th birthday.

So he surprised her with a day on the town in Modesto, CA.  In his new music video Glorious, the pair egged a house together, shopped for some shoes, hit up the local arcade... and popped some tags at WinCo Foods.

The rapper is seen driving the mart karts with granny and looking at magazines at the Modesto location of the Boise-based retailer.

The video is #6 on YouTube trending today - so WinCo's signature green & orange interior is getting in front of a lot of eyeballs.

Modesto resident Patrice Parks told the Modesto Bee about what she saw at her local WinCo during filming in June: 

 “You know it was one of those days where I didn’t want to leave the house, but I said I’ve got to go to the store,” Parks said. “But you don’t expect to go to WinCo and find a celebrity. It’s Modesto, you never see this kind of stuff happen. But it was really amazing.”

ALSO READ:
Winco, Costco planned for Chinden & Linder

This isn't the first time Macklemore has woven a piece of Idaho into one of his songs:

Giant LEGO monuments come to Boise's mall

Giant LEGO monuments are taking over Boise Towne Square for the next few weeks.

GGP, the mall's owner, is sponsoring a Great Americana Roadshow through July 16th - with massive monuments built out of the toy bricks.

The show technically opens Saturday - but the monuments are already in place. A toy racing exhibit and other pieces will be in place this weekend.

On July 15th and 16th from noon-4 p.m., kids can come to the mall and build a mini Independence Hall to take home.

The impressive sculptures dot both levels of the mall, and helps GGP lure folks into the building for something other than shopping or food (and with a closed river and 100-plus degree temps... it's not such a bad afternoon idea).

The featured sculptures are: 

  • US Capitol - lower level at center court
  • White House - lower level near Banana Republic
  • Washington Monument - lower level near Michael Kors
  • Independence Hall  - lower level near American Eagle
  • Liberty Bell - lower level near PINK
  • Old North Church - lower level near Abercrombie
  • US Supreme Court - lower level at main entrance
  • Lincoln Memorial  - lower level near Vans
  • Jefferson Memorial  - upper level near Build-A-Bear
  • Statue of Liberty - upper level near Starbucks
  • ski resort - upper level near center court
  • mall sculpture - lower level near Kohl's

Fox(tail) news: Restaurants planned near Chinden, Linder

The intersection of Chinden and Linder is booming.

A new retail strip is planned on the north side of Chinden near Linder and would include four chain restaurants.

ALSO READ:
WinCo planned for Meridian, Costco likely

Blaze Pizza, Costa Vida, Great Harvest and Roxberry are all coming soon to the plot of land near the Foxtail residential development.

All four have other outlets in the Treasure Valley.  Roxberry might be the least familiar - it is a Utah-based smoothie chain with an existing outlet in Nampa.