The Village at Meridian is strategically located near the geographic, population and employment centers of the Treasure Valley and built at the state's busiest intersection.
"The location was the driving factor," said project manager Hugh Crawford. "Meridian has become the epicenter of life in the Treasure Valley."
While Boise Towne Square, also clocking in at about 1 million square feet, continues its reign as the Valley's retail mecca with more than 130 shops, The Village goes for a more multitasking focus with a 15-plex theater, 65,000-square-foot bowling and entertainment center, 35,000-square-foot fitness center with an indoor pool and, at the heart of The Village, an outdoor plaza with Bellagio-style fountain. The site of a former turf farm, The Village is adjacent to Meridian's new signature, $25 million, 60-acre regional park.
"This is not a traditional mall with big anchor stores," Crawford said. The center has several "mini-anchors," like entertainment and fashion. "It is anchored by the collection," he said.
The center offers indoor and outdoor experiences.
"The outdoor experience is something you will not see at a traditional mall - intimate European street settings with lush landscaping, twinkling lights, music throughout, soft seating areas, a fountain show," he said.
The Village, 70 percent leased with additional lease agreements awaiting signatures, is drawing national restaurants and retailers making their first forays into Idaho. Those include Kona Grill, Yard House, Toby Keith's I Love This Grill, Soma Intimates, Charming Charlie and Republic of Couture.
In addition to Boise Towne Square, The Village also will be in league with Downtown Boise, which maintains its position as the Valley's art, cultural, dining and nightlife center.
But Downtown Boise is grappling with paid parking and access issues, something The Village and Boise Towne Square do not face.
The Village is also banking on its strategic location to give it an extra boost. Using Treasure Valley data, the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho calculated two imaginary points that represent the geographic centers of population and employment. Both are in central Meridian - the Valley's geographic population center lies at Pine Avenue and Linder Road and its geographic employment center lies at Franklin and Cloverdale roads. Also in the area, according to the Idaho Transportation Department, is the state's busiest intersection - Eagle Road and Fairview Avenue.
Strategic location and easier access are what convinced outdoor gear retailer GoLite to shutter its Downtown Boise store this month and relocate to The Village at Meridian.
"We want to better reach all of the Treasure Valley," said store manager Mindy Rupley.
Other stores with an existing Valley presence, including Chico's and White House Black Market, will open a second location at The Village.
BY THE NUMBERS
Project cost: $300 million
4,100 parking spaces
1,020,000 square feet of entertainment, retail and commercial space
67 animated vertical jets on the fountain with 30-foot spray
201 computer-controlled LED lights on the fountain
200 ornate lampposts
400 to 600 contractors employed every day for more than a year during construction
1,800 new jobs created to date
1,000 additional new jobs to be created by early 2014
60 acres at adjacent $25 million Julius M. Kleiner Park
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell