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Where business news starts in Boise.

Quiet old Emmett mill site will roar to life with large new raceway project

The old Boise Cascade mill in Emmett could soon spring to life.

But instead of the noise of saws – the roar of engines will fill the air.

Gem State Raceway plans to convert the former mill site on Cascade Rd. to a large new track.

In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Gem State Raceway announced it started construction on a 1.2-mile road course on the mill property, with what it calls an “arena-style” track.

Here’s the info. Arena style track. At the Old Cascade Mill in Emmett, ID. LENGTH: 1.2mi road-course. AREA OF TRACK:…

Posted by Gem State Raceway on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

In May, Park Hampton, LLC won approval from the Gem County Zoning Commission to redevelop the old mill into a mixed-use project. The Emmett Messenger-Index reported about 100 people testified for and against the two special use permits needed for the project.

One of the permits would allow for a new RV park on the site. The other granted permission for a special events center and the road-course style track, according to the Emmett paper.

Property records show Park Hampton LLC owns three parcels of the former mill site – totaling nearly 77 acres. Gem State Raceway officials were not immediately available for comment by our deadline.

Gem State Raceway says it will start with a launch event in October with car-themed event ahead of full buildout for the project. In addition to the road course, a 1/8 mile drag strip, dirt tractor pull arena and an area for staging drift events are planned.

This would be the first road course raceway in the area. It would join the quarter-mile drag strip at Firebird Raceway – just outside of Emmett, and a small oval race track at the Meridian Speedway.

Mill has long history in Emmett

Despite the mill closure, the population of Emmett continued to increase in recent years – albeit at a slower rate than before. As of 2017, 6,829 people lived in the Gem County town. With the boom in population across the Treasure Valley, Emmett continues to be a more affordable area for housing. In coming years, Emmett will have a direct link to Interstate 84 with the expansion of Highway 16 through Ada and Canyon Counties, linking the existing road with a freeway-style route.

Central Valley Expressway
The new Central Valley Expressway will link the existing Highway 16 to Interstate 84. BoiseDev graphic

The mill first opened in 1917 under the Boise Payette Lumber Company name and initially closed in 2001. Several efforts revived parts of the mill operation over the years – but it never again reached its heyday.

In 2017, Boise Cascade donated 34 acres of the former mill site to the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. It also donated two acres to the local fire district. Woodgrain Millworks purchased a 56-acre site along the Payette River in 2016.

(Thanks, Corbin, for the tip!)

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