Locally owned. Supported by members.

Some businesses like Boise’s 8th St. closure – others list concerns

The Sundance Company

Not everyone is a fan of the City of Boise’s move to close 8th Street to all car and truck traffic, including morning deliveries. 

Businesses on 8th Street are celebrating the conversion of a section of the street to a pedestrian and cyclist only area due to COVID-19, but some shop owners elsewhere in downtown feel left out in the cold. Restaurants and bars are reporting booming business after weeks of stay-at-home orders earlier this year. On the other hand, some non-food related businesses nearby say they struggle with deliveries moving to other streets, and a decrease in street parking to accommodate restaurants.

[More patios? 100+ Boise restaurants, bars ask for beefed-up outdoor space]

‘Pilot’ expands

The popular corridor closed to car traffic as a pilot at the end of May, except for deliveries prior to 11 a.m. Now, the city blocked all vehicle traffic on the two blocks of 8th between Main and Bannock. Deliveries for restaurants and businesses on 8th Street moved to two blocks of Idaho Street between 9th and Capitol Boulevard between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

None of the businesses who spoke to BoiseDev said they knew about the closure until last week’s public announcement.

- Story continues below ads -
ICCU Idaho
Fast in the Morning

The Downtown Boise Association conducted outreach for the project. DBA Executive Director Jennifer Hensley said they made contact with every business in the area around the closure. She said business owners on the northern block of 8th Street requested the street fully close due to confusion for drivers. She said businesses on the southern block agreed. Hensley also said pedestrians walked in the middle of the street during delivery hours.

[Downtown coffee shop’s temporary closure becomes permanent (but another one opened)]

“It created confusion and we were worried we were going to have a safety issue,” she said.

Russ Crawforth, owner of The Mode Lounge and Pie Hole on 8th, praised the city’s decision to close the street. He said getting deliveries was a slight issue, but Crawforth was pleased with the solution of moving the delivery zone. Crawforth closed his bar for a few weeks due to COVID-19. He later reopened after Cental District Health issued a food permit.

“The whole thing with 8th Street has been wonderful for business,” he said. “It’s given us more space in the middle of the pandemic and the only issue with closing it is getting the products to the restaurants.”

Loss of parking for retailers

Mike Rogers, owner of Precious Metal Arts jewelry store on Bannock St., is not as pleased with the change. He does not blame Mayor Lauren McLean, but he said the latest change continues the trend of favoring restaurants over other businesses in the downtown core. 

“There’s a very clear bias towards restaurants in downtown policy since COVID hit,” Rogers said. “I am friends with (restaurant owners) and I think highly of them and I get they’re in big trouble, but the rest of us are too. There’s no right answer, but to push deliver trucks onto Bannock and Idaho is hurting everybody.”

He said delivery trucks will take up parking spaces normally used for store patrons. On-street spaces are in short supply since the pandemic due to some restaurants moving dining into the spaces, plus the city reserving spaces for restaurant pick up orders. Rogers said the city reserved two spaces for pick up for a restaurant near his shop – but the restaurant doesn’t open until after his shop closes for the day.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. 

Before the change took place, Fork General Manager Rodney Johnson said he thought closing the street would be positive for the customers. He said prior to the street closure, restaurants struggled with drivers on weekends speeding down the busy street looking for parking, possibly endangering pedestrians. 

“At this point the information I’ve gotten has been generally positive,” he said. “It gives us the ability to have the guests be safer since folks using the patio extensions are using the bike lane and stuff for walking. They will now have less proximity to cars when it’s time for that time of the weekend when they don’t drive as safely as they could.”

More closed streets

David Graves, owner of men’s clothing store Alexander Davis, said in the decades since his store opened in downtown Boise the trend of blocking streets for pedestrians increased in recent years. But, he said, the indefinite street closure takes it to another level.

“I understand (the appeal of closing streets), but I also don’t understand the lack of collaboration between retail and the restaurants to kind of have a work together policy,” he said. “I think we’re the weakest of the lobby group and the strongest lobbyists are going to be food and beverage to get what they want.”

Not all retail shops in the area expressed frustration with the change. Bruce DeLaney, owner of Rediscovered Books in the closed area on 8th said as long as their customers can access the store he is in favor. 

“The things that are important to us are our customers need to be able to get to the store, so as long as there is parking on Idaho and in the parking garages, we think it’s nothing but good,” he said. “We are 100% on board with the fact that the city is trying to do everything they can to help the businesses in the downtown core.”

Love our stories? Get them delivered straight to your inbox each afternoon. Plus, support BoiseDev's independent journalism.

Margaret Carmel
Margaret is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at margaret@boisedev.com or by phone at (757)705-8066.

You asked: Why is the Egyptian Theater boarded up?

If you've driven through Downtown Boise lately you might have noticed that the doors to the Egyptian Theater are boarded up.

Stalled Anthony’s restaurant restarts, announces opening date

Seafood lovers, rejoice! After putting construction on hold this Spring, construction resumes on Anthony's new restaurant in Downtown Boise.

Proposed tall downtown building gets reworked in face of neighbor concerns

Earlier this year, BoiseDev broke news of a new 16-story building slated for Downtown Boise. Now the project's developer...

‘Cozier:’ Downtown restaurant closed during pandemic plans remodel, menu & drink updates

Along 8th Street on Downtown Boise's restaurant row, most of the dining establishments started back up and running this summer. But one,...

Popular

Les Schwab Tires, Idaho town staple, gains large new owner

The stores in Les Schwab country have a new owner. The Oregon-based tire chain went on the block last...

Large student apartment project turned down after McLean breaks city council tie

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean cast the deciding vote to turn down an upscale student housing project near Boise State University.  It's the...

You asked: Why is the Egyptian Theater boarded up?

If you've driven through Downtown Boise lately you might have noticed that the doors to the Egyptian Theater are boarded up.

Popular Idaho mountain hot springs goes up for sale

If you're someone who has thought about purchasing a hot spring, now may be the time to do it. 

Stalled Anthony’s restaurant restarts, announces opening date

Seafood lovers, rejoice! After putting construction on hold this Spring, construction resumes on Anthony's new restaurant in Downtown Boise.

Photo tour: Idaho 55 work zone down to one lane with machinery, rock in narrow canyon

Late last week, we drove through the Idaho Highway 55 canyon between Smith's Ferry and Round Valley. The Idaho Transportation recently...

Related

Downtown Boise restaurants, Treefort, others to help feed those in need, put people back to work

A group of local businesses and organizations hope to help feed people who need meals. In the process, they want to put...
SERVPRO Certified

Latest

Boise State Public Radio receives million-dollar gift to help support local news

Boise State Public Radio announced it recieved the largest gift in station history - $1.1 million. The money came...

Eagle arcade closes, game machines sold and moved out

After seven years in business, Grinkers Grand Palace in Eagle will no longer welcome classic game players. The 80s-style...

You asked: Why is the Egyptian Theater boarded up?

If you've driven through Downtown Boise lately you might have noticed that the doors to the Egyptian Theater are boarded up.

Les Schwab Tires, Idaho town staple, gains large new owner

The stores in Les Schwab country have a new owner. The Oregon-based tire chain went on the block last...

Large student apartment project turned down after McLean breaks city council tie

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean cast the deciding vote to turn down an upscale student housing project near Boise State University.  It's the...

Sánchez proposes ordinance to separate residential & commercial rental deposits

Boise City Council is considering an ordinance to secure your rental security deposit.  City Council Member Lisa Sánchez brought...