Boise’s Spectrum center tries to drum up business

Anchored by a cineplex, it goes for a new look and hopes to attract more retail customers

adutton@idahostatesman.comSeptember 10, 2013 

When a Hollywood blockbuster opens at the Spectrum, the parking lot is packed. People mill around in the plaza outside the doors of Edwards cinemas. But across that plaza, several storefronts are empty.

The recession and slow recovery took a toll on the Spectrum, near the intersection of Cole and Overland roads. Not enough families or workers nearby go there for a bite to eat or just to hang out during the day. Moxie Java coffee shop is gone. So is Jamba Juice. The spot that held Smoky Mountain Pizza and later ComedySportz is now empty. Game World isn’t there anymore; its sprawling space will be filled by a Toni & Guy beauty academy soon.

But this could be a turning point for the center.

Its owner, D.D. Dunlap Cos. of Huntington Beach, Calif., is investing more than $500,000 to build a new road, parking spaces, a drive-thru and attractions that it hopes will bring more traffic to the businesses. The plaza is now being transformed into a road that will wind between the theater and the stores, with several new parking spots on one side.

“We can’t stand by and let Meridian have all the fun,” said Bill Gage, who is handling leases and permitting for Dunlap. “In part, I think we’re being proactive and trying to make a difference” to bring in new customers.

The changes should make it easier for drivers to drop off people in front of the restaurants and the theater, and to park long enough to get a meal or make a purchase, Gage said.

Moviegoers and others can still congregate in the large area between retail buildings, which has benches and a fountain, or on the grassy area with the volleyball court.

Will Loverde, who co-owns The Creperie with his wife, Heather, said the construction is well-timed — October is the shop’s slowest month — but has taken a chunk out of their usual sales over the past week or two.

The Creperie specializes in sweets and candy.

“We really have high hopes that it’s going to bring out more people and make us more visible,” he said.

Planning started early this year, and construction should be wrapped up by mid-November, he said.

The theater itself — owned by Regal Cinemas — had a 10 percent increase in business between 2011 and last year, Gage said.

More than 150,000 people drive by the center on nearby streets or on Interstate 84 each day, and Gage sees an opportunity for a store that sells coffee and baked goods to move into the drive-thru space and capture some of the 9,275 people who work in a one-mile radius.

Dunlap’s plans for next year include a water-and-fire feature, such as a fountain and fire pit combo, and pop-up fountains similar to those at the Grove Plaza in Downtown Boise. Dunlap expects to add playground equipment “for young families to come” during the day, Gage said.

He said Dunlap would like to hear from businesses interested in leasing its spaces, and can call 938-2898.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service