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What will Boise’s Grove St. look like? City considers makeover near Basque Block

Grove Street is getting a makeover.

After over a year of public input and design, Boise City Council is mulling several design options for a revamp of three blocks of Grove Street between the Basque Block and 3rd Street as the area continues to redevelop. The proposed changes to the area would bring wider sidewalks, raised bike lanes, a possible water feature, and room for a festival stage to host events.

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The proposal, which will be paid for by urban renewal agency Capital City Development Corporation, comes as Clay Carley’s multi-family development at 6th and Grove is underway. Planners say developers are eyeing some of the parking lots along the street for new projects. CCDC has also been discussing the development of the superblock between 3rd and 5th streets in recent months, but talks with Ada County to potentially sell their portion of the block stalled, and the future of the area is still undecided.

A rendering of the project area for the Grove Street redesign. Courtesy of the City of Boise

Ellen Campfield Nelson, a consultant with Agnew Beck who is working on the design, told city council the proposed design would dedicate room on the road for cars to pedestrians and bicyclists. The amount of available street parking available in the final design is still up for discussion, but she said designers are considering a design with pockets of parking and loading/delivery zones with the bicycle lane moving around it.

“One thing I personally think is cool as someone who frequently bikes downtown with kids is you can navigate this parking set up without having to run into the back of a UPS truck because (the bike lane is) going around the pull-in spaces,” Campfield Nelson told council during a work session on Tuesday.

Council speaks for the trees

A rendering of the redesign of Grove Street with wider sidewalks and raised bike lanes. Courtesy of the City of Boise

City Council has several big questions to decide still before the design is finalized.

One of the biggest questions the council has to decide is the fate of several mature trees along the south side of Grove Street. The city plans to keep all of the trees near the one-story apartment complex near 3rd Street, but they are pondering whether to take out a series of Norway Maples across the street from C.W. Moore Park to make way for a new streetscape design.

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The new design would include replacement trees with silva cells, which protect trees in urban environments. Design consultant Brian McCarter with ZGF Architects told city council that replacing the trees would mean they would have a longer life and could be paid for with the urban renewal district now, but City Council Members and Mayor McLean were not on board.

McLean pointed to the nearby festival block on Broad Street as a bad example. She said the wide sidewalks and asphalt make it unbearably hot in the summer, and the newly planted trees don’t provide the kind of shade visitors want. Instead, she wanted to keep the existing trees even if it means the streetscape along Grove won’t be the same block to block.

A view of Broad Street looking East

“This is what I want investment to avoid when we have existing shade,” she said, pointing out Broad Street on Google Earth to the council. “I see a lot of people moving quickly through this area because it’s hot. There’s (design) uniformity, yes, but those trees don’t provide what that block needs with all of that cement and hardscape that’s been put in.”

City Council Member Holli Woodings agreed, saying the city could redesign the streetscape to keep the trees and make it a more inviting urban environment.

“Having three blocks that are identical probably doesn’t make sense, but having some continuity while treating each block a little different so we can retain some trees, have that big festival block that moves up to the Basque Block, while we have some transition that is a little bit more natural (makes sense),” Woodings said. “It might have more tree cover, and it might not have those super-wide sidewalks, but if we have the same design elements that are down the way, I think it makes a lot of sense.”

What about the canal?

Campfield Nelson said her team is considering a nod to a historic canal that runs underneath the street with a water feature. It hasn’t been designed yet, but it would run along the north side of the street and could feature sandstone elements that double as seating along the sidewalk.

However, Boise’s Associate Transportation Planner Karen Gallagher warned the city council about water features’ maintenance costs before they signed off on it for the design. City Council President Elaine Clegg said she was interested in seeing how much it would cost, but she wanted to ensure it was an artistic design.

“If we’re going to do a water feature, let’s do an artist contest so we get one that has a real benefit in addition to the water that creates public art,” Clegg said.

The canal currently comes to the surface with a water wheel in CW Moore park.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev senior reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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