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The future of Boise’s Harris Ranch: park, school, apartments and maybe that elusive restaurant

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Boise’s Barber Valley has always been home to a few residents, but growth really took off with the first of several subdivisions under the Harris Ranch banner in the early 1990s.

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Now, 20 years later, with more than a thousand houses done, the buildout of single-family homes on property owned or controlled by the Harris family is almost complete, and the next stage of development is set to begin.

“We are anxious to get some restaurants out here,” Harris Ranch developer Doug Fowler said. “We have the rooftops now and we are starting to get some interest. We are trying to build a community here but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

A large swath of land south of ParkCenter Blvd. and north of Warm Springs Avenue is earmarked for a variety of different projects, Fowler said – including a Boise School District elementary school site, townhomes, apartments, condos and a large village square.

A large green space is planned in the center of the currently undeveloped land, and Fowler says it is larger in size than Union Square in San Francisco – a large well-known public area in the California’ city’s downtown area that covers a city block.

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In a new video rendering, the village square is shown to have trees and a possible water feature. Fowler says the imagery is just conceptual right now but gives an idea of the size and scope.

The village green. Courtesy Harris Family LP

The square will be bordered by the new school, which is estimated to be built sometime in the early 2020s.

The school will use part of the area for recess and outdoor activities. Students will be able to cross a future extension of Barnside Way to the green.  

“Bollards will go in the street and we will use a different pavement treatment,” Fowler said. “During the day the bollards are electronic and vehicles won’t have access between the village green and the school. It will serve as a pedestrian plaza to get to the playground.”

Surrounding the school site will be multi-family housing – with more than 1,500 units entitled in the area.

Within the next decade, a parking garage could be built to serve the housing, school and commercial uses.

“We hope to have that out here in the future,” he said. “It’s probably ten years out.”

More immediate is construction work on Alta Harris Park, which Fowler says should start in 2019.

Alta Harris Park. Courtesy Harris Family LP

The Harris family land is separate from a number of projects being developed by Brighton Corp. and Ball Ventures Ahlquist centered along Barber Valley Drive near Maryann Williams Park. Commercial and town homes are beginning to be constructed in phases in that area as well.

“It’s slowly coming together. We have a few more years in front of us,” Fowler said.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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