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‘Really vibrant’: Panel looks at ideas on how to build future of Garden City neighborhood

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What should the future of a changing Garden City look like? City leaders and others gathered for a panel led by the Urban Land Institute to look at the future of the Parkway District. 

Garden City and Galena Equity Partners want to develop land near Chinden Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Parkway into a mixed-use community. The city hired ULI to put together a report that holds suggestions on how the area should be best utilized. 

What should the development include?

The panel talked about how to find the right retail for this area. There was a push for hyper-local businesses to be incorporated into the Parkway District. 

“Retail, it’s been tough countrywide. (It has) been hurt by online purchases and all that. But what will work here is hyper-local businesses, such as Push and Pour, things people relate to that are just kind of homegrown or retail that is experiential, where people go to a place but it’s not just to buy something, but something else is happening there, and then retail it’s clustered,” panelist Agnes Artemel said.

ULI’s big vision for this community is to have a mix of homes and uses. 

“A really vibrant, a really inclusive, and a unique 10-minute walk neighborhood that is live work, create, your words. And we added recreate in this neighborhood. We know you have a great mix of different users and although it is kind of fragmented it provides a unique and an authentic experience,” panelist Geeti Silwal said. “That’s an opportunity to capitalize on retail and neighborhood services. And amenities need to be planned to conserve the entire neighborhood.”

During the panel, ULI said in terms of housing that smaller denser units would be a good option for the area. And while Idaho can not mandate affordable housing, the panel gave suggestions how this area can stay affordable. 

“There are cities in a region and in Idaho that are using a variety of tools to secure affordable housing and there are many partners eager to support the city and developers and finding ways to support affordable housing programs and projects,” panelist Alexandra Elias said. “This week, we learned that the community is open to growth, which is very important. The community is open to the changes in the community and open to density. We heard about the need for a variety of housing types, as is mentioned, such as single-family and multifamily or live work… It’s important to retain the characteristics of the community. Garden City’s comprehensive plan acknowledges the goal of diversity of housing and provides action steps in pursuit of that goal. One of those action steps is to create housing.”

Amenities

Using amenities such as the Boise River Greenbelt was a big emphasis during the presentation. Because of E-bikes and scooters, ULI recommended that speed signs be posted on the Greenbelt.

“You have an enviable cultural and natural resource. Our first evening here as a panel was spent along the trail and I think for all of us, it was love at first sight,” panelist Emily Rogers said. “Other cities strive to have this kind of amenity, it acts as a significant economic engine for property development. And commercial activity and it is a critical quality of life amenity. development along the trail has created street life by orienting porches, balconies and patios towards the trail and river and there is a wide range of users and activities from dawn to dusk.”

The panel encouraged Garden City leaders to consider Adding parks and designating new public spaces. They also pushed for adding amenities to the Greenbelt such as benches.

 “Additionally, street trees and encouraging property owners to create gardens along the street could help put the garden back in Gardner City,” Rogers said. “Street end connections. Another opportunity is to formalize the street end and connections to the Greenbelt. The large turning radius is necessary to accommodate safe access for maintenance vehicles. Emergency services and turnaround space for school. This also provides clear access which minimizes ad hoc paths…Right now when you’re on the trail, if you need to stop and have a conversation or fix your flat tire, there’s no shoulder to pull off on. And so some periodic spaces where you that are designated that are formalized for pulling off can help create a much safer environment.”

The panel pointed out that though Garden City is walkable in some areas, there are disconnected sidewalks that could be improved.

ULI believes that using the trails and encouraging walking would allow parking reduction over time.

“It’s our belief that there’s opportunities to reduce the parking as more and more density comes in because of the fact that these developments are taking advantage of the trail. If you look at the Garden City Code, there are actually provisions in there for biking and for different biking requirements,” panelist Erwin Andres said. “So the city has made it clear that biking is an important part of that. So this is a natural extension of the of providing bicycle facilities that we can allow for reduction of parking.”

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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