Boise & Nordstrom: A missed connection?

During a City Club of Boise forum on the rebuilding of Downtown Boise (BoiseDev story), former mayor Dirk Kempthorne dropped a tantalizing tidbit: Did Downtown almost hook its retail white whale?

While answering an audience question about the desire for a department store in Downtown Boise - specifically Nordstrom, Kempthorne seemed to indicate that almost happened decades ago.

"Nordstrom is like that girl in high school who you ask to prom, but she says no and you move on," he said. "But then they come back to you and it's too late."

Kempthorne explained that plans for downtown had moved beyond a mall concept to the form it has today - and any overture by Nordstrom came too late in the process to become a reality.

"The idea of putting a box downtown was never going to work because of egress and ingress - getting people in and out."

With Macys' exit from its location at 10th and Idaho in 2010, the core area is left without any department store-type retailers, where it used to host Macy's, Sears, JC Penney and The Mode.

Skip Oppenheimer, who was also on the panel and developed One Capital Center and the Wells Fargo Center, remains optimistic - that more retail could be in the downtown area's future.

"I think we could see a department store in or around downtown in the future" he said.

The Seattle-based retailer did enter the Boise market with its Nordstrom Rack format at Boise Towne Square in 2012.  The company has announced store openings through 2019. The list includes new large-format stores in Carlsbad, CA, New York City, NY and Norwalk, CT -- but none in Boise... for now.

Don Day

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