Meridian suffered some of the Treasure Valleys biggest losses when the construction bubble burst.
The number of new housing permits shrank from 3,314 in 2005 to 521 in 2011.
But the city is on its way back. The states largest retail development is well into construction there; new road projects will improve access to the central Treasure Valley; and Meridian is poised to surpass Nampa as the states second-largest city.
Meridian issued 1,046 residential permits in 2012, breaking the 1,000 mark for the first time in six years.
Every city in the Valleys two counties posted an increase in residential permits, some doubling or tripling their 2011 output. Boise posted the smallest increase percentage-wise a none-too-shabby 40 percent increase to 801 permits.
We are in that uptick. We are year two into it enough to know that it is an uptick and it is not just a blip, said Meridian Community Development Director Bruce Chatterton. We are definitely climbing out of the real estate recession.
For more than four decades, Brighton Corporation has been developing residential, commercial and industrial projects in the Treasure Valley. One reason the Valleys new growth spurt will be different, said Brighton Homes President Lars Hansen, is because of changes in lending practices. Gone are the days of undocumented loans and 100 percent financing.
This dampening effect might slow the growth pace a bit, but it keeps it on a more solid and realistic footing, he said.
Chatterton, too, doubts that Meridian will ever see the numbers of the boom years Meridian grew from 9,596 people in 1990 to 75,092 in 2010.
We learned it was overheated and it was not sustainable, Chatterton said. I would prefer to see a more balanced portfolio for our local economy.
Last year, Meridian issued 84 of the 174 commercial permits in Ada and Canyon counties, according to the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, which tracks activity. Boise, Caldwell and Nampa issued 30, 17 and 12 commercial permits, respectively.
Projects in Meridian include CenterCals The Village at Meridian, a 100-acre, $300 million retail, commercial and entertainment center adjacent to the citys newest and largest park, Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, at Eagle Road and Fairview Avenue.
The Village dwarfs Boises biggest commercial developments, the $70 million Simplot JUMP project and the $76 million, 18-story Eighth and Main building.
Business and medical campuses are sprouting in Meridian. Scentsy is expanding on its 60-acre campus and PKG has several multistory buildings on tap for its 13-acre campus.
The mix of commercial, medical and residential townhomes, four-plexes and apartments is part of Meridians transformation from Boise bedroom community to full-service city.
We are no longer just a one-story city, Chatterton said.
MORE TO COME
Meridian is poised for future development because it has a mix of greenfield and brownfield opportunities undeveloped land and areas suited for redevelopment, Chatterton said. And more and more national chains are opting to make their first Idaho presence in what is the geographic center of the well-populated Treasure Valley.
They dont care about jurisdictional lines. They look at population and economic centers, he said. They are looking at the region first.
Hansen said Brighton approaches development differently in Meridian and Boise. Boise has great redevelopment potential within its urbanized core, while Meridian has more bare ground for new growth, he said.
WATCH OUT, NAMPA
Meridian is on track to surpass its neighbor to the west as Idahos second-largest city, behind only Boise and its 206,000 people.
In the 2010 Census, Nampa had 81,557 people and Meridian 75,092. Chatterton said he would not be surprised if Meridian moves ahead within the next couple of years, especially with four new or soon-to-be completed road projects helping fuel the growth.
The states newest freeway interchange, at Ten Mile Road, is a blank canvas. The Ada County Highway District is currently reconfiguring Meridians two main corridors, Main Street and Meridian Street. The $18 million investment will improve access across town and into downtown, making the area ripe for redevelopment, Chatterton said.
Next year, the Idaho Transportation Department will rebuild the undersized Meridian Road interchange. And ITD also has plans to extend Idaho 16 from Emmett to the freeway just west of Meridian.
These new or revamped transportation corridors, Chatterton said, are the true magnets for growth.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell