We ❤️ Idaho

Gov. Little interview: urban renewal could use key changes; urges caution

Membership matters

Our growing local news service is powered by members like you. Plus, you get our popular daily newsletter and other perks. Sign up today!

Editor’s note: This is part of a six-part series of stories on our interview with Gov. Brad Little. Additional stories will appear all this week.

Urban renewal is a perennial hot topic in Idaho. Since the first urban renewal area was established in Downtown Boise in 1986 to now – cities across the state have begun using the tool and its financing methods to pay for plazas, infrastructure, business attraction and more.

During his interview with BoiseDev this week, Gov. Brad Little noted it is often a big topic at the Statehouse, too.

BoiseDev Project Tracker

Presented by TOK

“There’s usually an urban renewal bill every year and the anti-urban renewal people show up and the people that have used for urban renewal show up,” he said.

He thinks “urban renewal” could start with a branding change.

“I’m in the camp that we ought to change the name of urban renewal to what it is and that’s for economic development. Then really keep urban renewal for quote a ‘blighted area ‘which is what the intent of it it was to begin with.”

The Capital City Development Corporation, Boise’s urban renewal agency, has made a similar point with the establishment of its new Gateway East urban renewal area. It says it is using the tool more for economic development than traditional urban renewal.

The full audio of the 30-minute interview is available in podcast form for members of BoiseDev FIRST as an exclusive benefit of membership. Listen now or sign up for access. Hear his full thoughts on growth, transportation, climate change, urban renewal and more.

Urban renewal areas have proliferated across Idaho, including in Garden City, Meridian, Nampa, Twin Falls, Kootenai County, Chubbuck, Driggs, McCall and many more. The State of Idaho registry has more than 80 areas on its list – though it hasn’t been updated since 2017.

Without naming names, he said not every urban renewal district is created equally.

“I think some areas don’t use it within the intent of the law. I think some people do.”

He said the people who work on urban renewal should be careful to follow Idaho’s laws, statutes and legislative intent.

“People on urban renewal boards just need to be cognizant that what they do passes what would be called the political smell test,” he said. “If they’re doing what they said they were going to do (that’s OK). But everybody that has a do with urban renewal needs to be careful.”

Gov. Brad Little on Idaho’s growth

This story is part of a special six-part series, outlining how Idaho’s new governor looks at issues related to growth. BoiseDev FIRST members get access to a special podcast containing the full interview with the governor.

Boise Centre eyes restaurant space on Grove Plaza

BOISEDEV FIRST MEMBER PREVIEW STORY In recent months, the board of the Greater Boise Auditorium District considered purchasing a...

BVA to build valley’s first 24-hour urgent care center with Saltzer at Ten Mile

A large new medical complex will soon come to Meridian's Ten Mile Crossing. Ball Ventures Ahlquist and its Saltzer...

Forecast for new Downtown Boise park: foggy; new ‘iconic’ project on the way

The City of Boise is working on plans for a new urban Downtown Boise park next to the forthcoming 11th and Idaho...

Long-envisioned marina on Lake Cascade closer to reality; Tamarack hopes to operate it

BOISEDEV MEMBER PREVIEW STORY A long-planned marina could soon pop up on Lake Cascade, and Tamarack Resort could operate...