Your guide to the Eighth & Main grand opening in Downtown Boise

Organizers expect a crowd of 15,000 to celebrate Idaho’s tallest building.

sberg@idahostatesman.comFebruary 13, 2014 

  • SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY’S EVENTS

    1 p.m. Games, face-painting, crafts, T-shirt making, etc. If you want a T-shirt, be sure to show up at the family activities tent west of the food trucks and U.S. Bank building. Organizers will give them away to the first 500 people. Hint: Bring a smartphone if you have one. If not, arm yourself with trivia knowledge.

    2:15 pm. Allen Stone performs on the Main Street stage.

    3:45 p.m. Ra Ra Riot performs on the Main Street stage.

    6 p.m. Ribbon-cutting for Eighth & Main building on the Main Street stage.

    6:30 p.m. Festivities conclude with a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls.

  • PARKING ACCESS

    Eastman Garage: Accessible Friday evening and Saturday morning. Use the north lane on Main Street until early Saturday afternoon. The rest of Saturday, use Idaho Street.

    Capitol Terrace Garage: Accessible from Main Street via 8th Street on Friday evening. On Saturday, use Idaho Street throughout the day.

    Other Downtown garages and lots: Open Saturday

  • ROAD CLOSURES

    - Main between 9th & Capitol closes 7 p.m. Friday and reopens 1 a.m. Sunday

    - 8th between Idaho & Main closes 6 a.m. Saturday and reopens 1 a.m. Sunday

    - One lane of traffic on Main Street will allow people to enter the Eastman Garage but will close when the garage is full. If the garage doesn’t fill up, the lane will close no later than 2 p.m. Saturday.

    - Police may close other roads if necessary.

There’s a fascinating story behind the Eighth & Main building in Downtown Boise, and the Gardner Co. decided no garden-variety ribbon-cutting would do it justice.

So this Saturday, Gardner, which built the Eighth & Main tower, is planning Boise’s biggest street party of the year. That is, unless you count the Idaho New Year's Commission's New Year’s Eve celebration, which featured a giant foam potato dropping into the U.S. Bank Plaza, also owned by Gardner.

So tell me about this party.

The Goo Goo Dolls, who burst onto the pop scene in the 1990s, are Gardner’s headline act. They’re preceded by Allen Stone, a jazz-blues-soul singer, and Syracuse University product Ra Ra Riot.

Is that it?

Those are the highlights. Look for family activities, food, a beer garden and more. The formal ribbon-cutting is set for 6 p.m. Saturday. See the full schedule farther down this page.

Sounds expensive. What’s the cost for all this? And who’s paying?

Both Gardner and Zions Bank, Eighth & Main’s financier and anchor tenant, are footing the bill. Geoffrey Wardle, Gardner’s vice president of development, wouldn’t give specifics but said his company’s cost will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. A Zions spokeswoman wouldn’t say how much the bank is spending.

You said something about a fascinating story?

Gardner built the Eighth & Main building on the infamous northwest corner of 8th and Main streets. The Overland Hotel was built there 150 years ago and stood for decades. The Eastman building replaced it in the early 1900s and was a beacon in Downtown Boise until the Boise Redevelopment Agency bought it in the 1970s and kicked everyone out.

Billy Fong, one of the last members of Boise’s Chinese community, cursed the ground when he had to leave the Eastman. And with the decades that followed, the legend of that curse grew.

The Eastman sat vacant for 15 years before it burned in a suspicious blaze. After that, plan after plan for new developments fell through.

But didn’t something get built at 8th and Main streets?

Sort of. Foundation work started in 2001 on Rick Peterson’s proposed 25-story “Boise Tower.” But financial and legal problems put an end to it.

Sounds like there was something to this curse.

People sure started to wonder about it. They started calling the lot, with its rebar protrusions, the “Boise Hole” and the “Boise Pit.” Now, a 327-foot building occupies the hole.

What’s next for Downtown?

Gardner is laying plans for U.S. Bank Plaza, which the company bought in August. The development would have two new buildings — on the south and west sides of the U.S. Bank tower — with space for restaurants, offices, meetings, conventions, a ballroom and garage parking. Underneath it all, Gardner plans to build a 40,000-square-foot public transportation hub in partnership with the Valley’s bus district.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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