Gardner buys high-profile but mostly empty shopping center along I-84. Big changes possible

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Salt Lake City-based Gardner Co. is branching out in the Treasure Valley. The company recently acquired the large, mostly-vacant Nampa Gateway center at Interstate 84 and the Garrity Exit.

Gardner, perhaps best known as the developer behind the 8th & Main building in Downtown Boise, completed the deal earlier this year, according to executive VP David Wali.

“We had an exchange and the guys who owned it before were out of Atlanta and don’t have much this side of the Mississippi,” he said. “I’m going to take the next six to twelve months and wait for supplies chains to come back online in the post-covid world.”

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Struggling property

The parking lots around the center were largely empty during our visit late last week. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

RCG Ventures bought the large 73-acre site in 2018 from Developers Diversified Realty, which started the project in 2007.

The project launched with high hopes, including department store chains Macy’s and JCPenney, sporting goods dealer Sports Authority as well as Edward’s Cinemas movie theater, and more. In the years since, Macy’s and Sports Authority closed, as well as many smaller tenants. JCPenney remains – as does Edwards, though the theater is currently closed due to the pandemic.

[Downtown Edwards won’t reopen, building owner eyes boutique theater replacement]

Wali said the project struggled in part due to timing. It started welcoming shoppers at the same time as CenterCal’s Village at Meridian and Treasure Valley Marketplace concepts – as well as during the 2008 economic downturn.

“There was a fight for tenants out there, and a race to the bottom for tenants,” he said. “In 2009 and ’10, retail was just starting to figure out how to survive and then (online shopping) really took hold.”

New ideas

Wali, known for developing projects in the Downtown Boise area, remarked at how much land Gardner now owns – and said there are many opportunities. He compared it to Downtown Boise where the same land size would include an eight-by-eight section.

He said that just using the site for retail and fields of parking might not be the best plan going forward.

“There need to be other things that draw people there. I think there needs to be a residential mix that’s brought in,” he said. “It has proximity to all the other companies that are coming into Nampa. We could build 10,000 new houses in Nampa and not meet demand. Not that you’d do it here – but if you added a couple hundred units and tore down some of the retail and added some restaurant and entertainment options… (you might have something).”

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The acquisition gives Gardner another high-profile project in Nampa, including the Library Square project downtown. It also gives the company a high-profile freeway corner, across 84 from the Idaho Center, and across Garrity from the Nampa Saint Alphonsus campus.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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