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Boise eyesore could get new life: where old ‘tank farm’ could go

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When you think of Boise icons – the Depot, Statehouse and Blue Turf probably come to mind.

One thing that is iconic – if not in a good way – is the oil and gas tank farm on the Boise bench.

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It’s not exactly a shining point of civic pride, and city leaders are eyeing the idea of moving the hub for oil and gas in the Treasure Valley out of the heart of the bench to land near the Boise Airport.

 BOISE BENCH TANK FARMS VIA FLICKR USER  LAURA GILMOR
BOISE BENCH TANK FARMS VIA FLICKR USER LAURA GILMOR

“The industrial use of tank farms is no longer compatible with this neighborhood in the geographic center of the city,” Boise City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg told BoiseDev. “The residences and small businesses are impacted by the tanks, but also importantly the tank operations themselves have difficulty moving fuel and support vehicles through the neighborhood.”

Clegg says finding a new spot for the tanks makes sense.

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“The city is doing due diligence on a number of fronts especially regarding financial viability,” she said.

More than 40 tanks are spread across the area, along with related facilities. Fuel is pumped via pipeline from Salt Lake City and distributed via trucks to gas stations throughout the greater Boise region.

A new urban renewal district could be created to include the site and surrounding area – analysis of that idea is also underway.  This year, the City of Boise is looking at both relocation and how the sites could be revamped when – and if – the tanks are demolished.

“This area of the bench has long been mentioned, for 20 years or so in my memory, as a location for a new URA district,” Clegg said. “If this project were to go forward it would only make sense to include it in any bench URA district.”

CCDC Executive Director John Brunelle said there has not been any movement at his agency for a new urban renewal district just yet. A draft of the proposed area from 2016 was obtained by BoiseDev, and includes the tank farm areas.

Boise Airport director Rebecca Hupp said it’s still in the early stages of using airport land to relocate the tanks.

“The project is currently in a preliminary due diligence phase to determine if a relocation is even remotely viable,” she said. 

Hupp said the airport owns about 5,000 acres in total.

“There is sufficient and compatible land available to accommodate the proposed purpose, but no specific sites have been selected.”

There are actually three separate tank farms in the area:

  • A facility at 321 N. Curtis Rd. 18.6 acres, owned by Sinclair Transportation Company and valued at $2.963 million according to the Ada County Assessor. 
  • An 8.91 acre swath of land at 712 N. Curtis Rd. at the corner of Emerald St, also owned by Sinclair, which is said to be worth $2.1 million.
  • A bundle of parcels at 201 N. Phillipi St. totaling 15 acres owned by Tesoro, valued at $1.7 million dollars.

The farms have been part of the Bench area since the 1950s and are the dominant feature of Curtis Rd. between Franklin and Emerald, with some limited light industrial and office uses nearby.  The former West Jr. High site is being redeveloped into a multi-use project by Hawkins Development Co across the street, which could serve as an initial development catalyst.

The idea has been percolating for most of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter’s tenure as mayor. A resident approached Bieter with the idea in 2006 according to a Boise Weekly story at the time.

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