Downtown Boise alley to go from dark & dreary to bright & cheery

Don Day
BoiseDev.com EXCLUSIVE

It's dark, damp and it smells bad. It's not a place you really want to hang out at night.

And it's right in the heart of downtown Boise!

Right now, CCDC is calling it "smoke break alley," but the passageway behind the Union Block in Boise is primed for a radical makeover - cleaning it up, giving the buildings a makeover and working to make it inviting instead of scary.

The idea? "Create inviting urban open space and a sense of place for public use and gathering." The concept ties into BoiseDev's earlier exclusive report on Boise's Downtown Parks & Public Spaces plan.

The owners of four major properties - Idaho Building, Fidelity Building, Key Center & Union Block - have banded together to help make the space a better part of downtown, with help from the aforementioned Capital City Development Corporation.

From a CCDC report on the so-called green alley project:

 "This group has made informal commitments to acquire and maintain waste management equipment to consolidate and relocate waste collection off the alley; restore/improve building façades facing the alley; and coordinate deliveries off the alley. 

There are numerous trash and recycling bins in the alley right now, but they will be moving to a consolidated spot in the Idaho Building's adjacent parking garage -- and the partners will share the cost of collection (the CCDC report says they will actually save money by bundling their waste efforts together).

Beyond the private efforts, Boise's Planning & Development services will hire a firm to help design a new look for the alley - with ideas like permeable pavers, a bioswale, lighting, garden features and alley entrances to restaurants on the table.

The alley would likely also be closed to vehicles, with those properties finding other spots to do deliveries. The project would help connect to the adjacent Freak Alley across 8th Street.

If CCDC, the City and the Ada County Highway District (which owns the alley) all sign off, construction could happen late next year. Funding could come from all the aforementioned agencies - including dollars left over from CCDC's renovation of the Grove. Each funding source is derived from public tax dollars.

Conceptual idea, via CCDC

Conceptual idea, via CCDC

Don Day

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